In this study we assess the potential role that the banana value chain can play in reducing poverty and eliminating hunger among rural and urban poor in Uganda and Tanzania. We provide a comprehensive analysis of banana consumption and productivity in the two countries and we scope the challenges and opportunities for providing more efficient and enhanced production and marketing focusing on smallholder enterprises along the commodity value chain.
To undertake this study we extensively reviewed published data and grey literature from national programs across the EAC and international sources to establish the best available information on supply and demand for bananas. But in view of the ...view middle of the document...
More than 12 million MT are produced annually with an estimated value of US$7bn. In East Africa, bananas are an important staple and nutritional food and play a key role in food security. In Uganda and Tanzania banana consumption (in total and per capita) is among the highest in the world. They provide 10% of the calorie intake of more than 70 million people. Over 4 million smallholder households cultivate bananas and plantain which provides an annual household income of about US$1,244 – one of the highest smallholder income-generating agricultural commodities in the region.
Bananas are fast growing with high biomass yield. They are popular and versatile and can be processed into food products, beverages (soft and alcoholic), snacks, feed, industrial spirits, crafts, and medicines. As food, some varieties are sweet and tasty for desserts while plantains can be cooked or roasted. Studies show that bananas produce the cheapest carbohydrate. Bananas grow in a wide range of environments and farming systems including pure stands, intercropping, and livestock/crop farming systems. They fruit all-year-round, which puts them above other crops as a food and income security crop.
Banana plants make an important contribution to environmental conservation – it is a perennial crop whose roots and broad leaves help to maintain soil structure and provide protective soil cover throughout the year. All these factors position bananas as a key resource. By developing the banana value chains, a number of sustainable and reliable income generating activities can also be supported.
In Uganda annual banana production is about 10 million MT. Some 75% of smallholders grow bananas on 1.5 million hectares. Domestic per capita consumption of bananas is between 220—460 kg/annum and is the highest in the world. It is the major food staple supporting some 13 million people. Tanzania ranks fourth in banana production in Africa and annually produces some 3.7 million MT from about 403,000 hectares. About 30% of the 11 million population derive their carbohydrates from green bananas with the annual per-capita consumption in the range of 280–500kg. In Kagera and Kilimanjaro regions where over 60% of bananas are grown, it is a staple food for 75–95% of the population.
But most banana production is limited to traditional cooking and brewing and so it considered to be a subsistence crop. This is a dis-incentive to investment and increasing productivity. Despite being the world’s second largest producer of bananas (after India) Uganda does not feature among the important countries trading bananas or their products on world markets. In both Uganda and Tanzania banana consumption is increasing, although in Uganda per capita consumption is falling for reasons we discuss in this study. Major drivers for this include increasing urbanization; population growth; emerging new markets across the borders in southern Sudan and DR Congo; and improving road infrastructure and increasing...