Banana Project Leaves Small Farmers Frustrated After Nearly Two Decades

Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development
PHOTO - PIBID - Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development
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Small-scale farmers in Bushenyi District, which has since become Greater Bushenyi with five districts, are still waiting for the promised benefits from the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) launched by President Museveni in 2005. The project aimed to provide technical and scientific services to enhance banana production and value addition for small holder matooke farmers.

Despite high hopes at the project’s launch, local farmers in Bushenyi and neighboring districts, including Mbarara, Ntungamo, and Isingiro, claim they have not experienced the expected improvements in the banana value chain. Mr. Asaph Mugizi, chairperson of Uganda Banana Producers Cooperative Union, expressed disappointment, stating that matooke prices have remained low, with little to no value addition.

Farmers also complain about delayed payments when selling matooke to the PIBID-owned factory. Additionally, some farmers had to reduce their coffee plantations to grow matooke but were left disappointed by the project’s outcomes.

In response, some districts are taking matters into their own hands by encouraging farmers to explore value addition opportunities like banana wine and banana flour production. Meanwhile, Isingiro District is set to have its own factory constructed, as the government acknowledges the need for expansion beyond Bushenyi.

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While not all farmers have benefited from PIBID, a cooperative in Ntungamo District has signed a memorandum of understanding to supply bananas to the project. However, overall progress has been slow, leaving many farmers unsatisfied.

During an annual celebration at the banana project in Bushenyi, Mr. Peter Ourien, undersecretary in the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, urged PIBID officials to demonstrate their impact on the local community and mobilize farmers for production. The project’s executive director, Prof. Florence Muranga, emphasized its focus on commercialization, technology transfer, marketing, and distribution network development.

Despite these efforts, the project’s results and benefits to small-scale farmers remain a subject of ongoing concern and frustration.

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