Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Banana farmers in the greater Bushenyi districts have faulted the Presidential Initiative on banana industrial development for failing to address the challenge of post-harvest losses.
The Presidential Initiative was established to facilitate the development of banana-based sustainable processing enterprises, to help farmers to add value to Matooke and yield profitable and competitive products through Technology Business Incubator and Industrial Technology Park system principles.
The group envisaged that by adding value to bananas and storing them for much longer, the farmers who have been making losses whenever there is a bumper harvest will be able to save their harvest.
But the farmers argue that many of them continue to sell their produce at giveaway prices while others use them as livestock feed and manure due to lack of markets and the inability of the enterprise to absorb their produce.
Silvano Kangagambe, a farmer from Bushenyi says that locals in the area formed cooperatives to enable them to sell off their bananas in an organized manner but their hopes were dashed after the Presidential Initiative On Banana Industrial Development failed to buy their produce.
Celestine Bagampiire, a farmer and the LC III Chairperson for Bumbaire sub-county says that their hopes have been dashed almost a decade after the initiative was rolled out.
Elly Muhwezi, the programs coordinator for Uganda Citizens Alliance says that the ongoing production at the factory is very minimal and has failed to cause an impact on the ground. Muhwezi adds that some farmers resort to feeding their animals on Matooke during the time of plenty since they cannot sell it off.
However, Rev. Dr Florence Muranga, the Executive Director of the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development says that the factory is not currently producing at full capacity and that this makes it hard to meet the expectations of the farmers.
She says that the initial target was to absorb only waste banana but says that the locals want the factory to buy both fresh and waste bananas. The factory buys a kilogram of bananas at 470 Shillings.
Up to 1.6 tons is currently absorbed in a day instead of the 16 tons of fresh bananas planned for if they were producing at full blast.
She adds that they have been trying to make engagements with international markets so that they can be able to buy the premium bananas from the locals to be sold fresh as the second class Matooke is used as a raw material if they are to make ends meet.