The Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) has already paid off. Makerere Universityâ€™s Dr. Florence Muranga who headed a research project on the preservation of banana on Monday handed a special report on the progress of her wo
However, the highlight of the ceremony at State House, Nakasero, was not the report, but rather a pack of Tooke biscuits made from our own bananas. The success of the research demonstrates the potential of Ugandan scientists given the necessary resources.
While banana is widely grown and is a staple food in many parts of Uganda, the technology for its preservation has been lacking leading to high post harvest losses. With the research breakthrough, Uganda will not only be in a position to preserve this highly perishable crop, but other industries to consume banana by-products shall sprout up, thereby creating jobs.
Through processing, it shall not only be possible to prolong the shelf life of bananas, but the flour can be used for the production of nutritious baby food, enriching dairy products and the production of banana juice and banana alcohol.
However, as we celebrate this success, the Presidential initiative should be expanded from banana to include other food crops widely grown in Uganda but are difficult to preserve. These include crops like sweet potatoes and cassava.
In Uganda, 70% of the cassava produced is for fresh consumption yet the shelf life for fresh cassava rarely exceeds two days. Yet cassava, just like potatoes, could be processed and preserved either for human consumption. Its by-products like starch could be for industrial use in textile, paper and pharmaceutical industries.
Research is an important component in the development process of any country and research organisations in Uganda should try to justify their existence by engaging in practical research to solve local problems. That is why PIBIDâ€™s scope should be expanded beyond just bananas.
Expand research in value addition