07 Feb Stakeholders’ consultative meetings on scaling out banana production and commercialisation in Northern Uganda
NARO Feed the Future activity is a both research and development initiative between National Agricultural research Organization (NARO) and USAID with the aim to promote the use and commercialization of improved technologies with yield and nutritional enhancing characteristics in Uganda. This initiative will focus on the continued improvement of crop genetics, bio-fortification, and integrated pest and disease management for both crops and livestock, in response to social and market needs and other emerging threats.
NARO is currently in the initial year of implementation of a five year engagement focusing on the commercialization of identified crops across the country under this partnership. A total of 8 commodities (Bananas, Beans, maize, Coffee, Sorghum, Millet, potatoes and Livestock) have been identified with 5 national institutes in NARO implementing. The National agricultural research laboratories (NARL), Kawanda will be focusing on banana production and commercialization in northern and western Uganda.
NARL begun implementation of a project on scaling out banana production and commercialization in Northern Uganda. The initial meeting was for stake holder consultations held in Lira and Gulu districts to get an overview of what banana production. These meetings were attended by district secretaries for production, technical staff from the production offices, banana farmers, extension workers, private sector players within the region with the key objectives to establish;
- The current market potential vs. banana production status in the region
- The desired vision
- Bridging the gap for increased banana production and commercialization
The head, national banana research program, Dr Priver Bwesigye during her speech said, “Looking at the map of Uganda on agricultural production of different crops against wealthy areas, people in places where bananas are produced were wealthier than people in areas where it was not produced,” This she said is because these regions have sufficient food for their families while in the Northern Uganda it’s not the case because they over depend on annual crops which are seasonal, yet banana production and yield is year round.
The purpose for the meeting was to look for ways of intensifying banana production in Northern Uganda so that farmers can produce more bananas for food and income generation. The meeting was also informed that this can only be achieved when farmers organise themselves in groups as this will give them better negotiation for inputs, price as well as lobbying and more money from sales.
Dr Simon Byabagambi the USAID representative said he appreciated NARO for their efforts towards introducing banana production in the Northern Uganda so as to increase on the food and income security of these vulnerable people. He also assured them that USAID has shown an increased commitment in increasing productivity for improved livelihoods and challenged the participants on the value of money they are losing by importing bananas instead of them growing and harvesting within region. This he said, can be achieved through sustainable banana production.
During these engagements, identification of all the main banana markets in the region with estimates of how many trucks /lorries made deliveries of bananas in a week were mad as well as the costs of bananas that were exported to Sudan and southern Sudan between 2014- 2018.
Selected sub counties for scaling out banana production and commercialization activities in the different regions of northern Uganda
Banana export to Southern Sudan and Sudan
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Conclusions from the engagements were; Awareness creation and sensitization on banana production and profitability, Establishment of Demonstration plots/ model farmers in each sub county, Water stress solutions, Identification of sources of clean planting materials , Banana value addition, Creation of market linkages for banana farmers/ groups, formation of farmer groups/cooperatives for banana production and marketing, etc.