By Prossy Nandudu
Traditionally bananas were grown for food and not for commercial use. Then, commercial crops were coffee, cotton, tobacco and tea in some places. However, with the changing economic times, this most crops including bananas have become a commercial crop.
Because of its commercial benefits, bananas are now widely grown than before. The increase in production has also led to wastage on many occasions due to the lack of appropriate post-harvest handling technologies for bananas.
For example, during a bumper harvest, banana prices dropped to as low as sh2000 a bunch in the major banana markets including Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Insingiro which are the major suppliers of bananas.
While major food markets in Kampala, like Kalerwe, Kireka, Nakawa, most bananas are left to ripen rot and dumped and yet according to the ministry of agriculture, 1.4 million people in rural areas directly depend on bananas for food and income.
To reduce losses, banana growing communities invented their own post-harvest management practices by extracting banana juice, some have gone as far as extracting wine locally and also brewing waragi from bananas among others.
Although there has been progress in value addition at community level and industrial level, through institutions like the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development, there is need for awareness on the various products that one can get from bananas.
That is what scientists focused on at the just concluded Harvest Money Expo, organized by Vision Group, supported by the Netherlands Embassy, Engsol, Riela among others.