Minister Musenero impressed with progress of banana value addition project

The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Monica Musenero has hailed Ugandan scientists’ efforts towards banana value addition.

Musenero made the remarks at the unveiling of the Tooke commercialisation blueprint at the Jinja Agricultural Show.

Spearheaded by Banana Industrial Research and Development Center (BIRDIC), the commercialisation phase is intended to take advantage of government investment in research and development including capacity building along the banana farming value chain whose main purpose is to promote value addition.

With the support of government, BIRDIC intends to invest over Shs214 billion in the next five years to empower farmers to take full advantage of the commercialisation of the Banana Value Addition process.

As part of the commercialisation process, scientists at BIRDIC have embarked on making flour out of banana from which baked products including snacks, chapati, biscuits, cakes, crisps among others are being processed.

Branded ‘Tooke’ the flour can be substituted for wheat.

Speaking at the unveiling, Musenero, thanked BIRDIC scientists behind the Tooke brand for perseverance and following all the due processes to add value into matooke.

“It has to go through you understanding, explaining and working through and working hard, following clear processes... Now we have a very valuable product from matooke (banana),” Musenero said.

She highlighted that the project will not only benefit scientists and researchers but also create opportunities for many Ugandans.

“For example, Tooke, has been worked on by a handful of scientists, but out of every ten people who benefit from Tooke in terms of getting jobs will not be scientists. Those people will be accountants, human resource managers..” she said.

Musenero, observed that as government, they are committed to supporting the project to ensure that Tooke brand does what wheat does for Europe in terms of processing bakery products.

She further implored Ugandans to buy Tooke products, saying these have more nutrients than some of the imported wheat products on market.

According to the Director General of BIRDC, Rev Prof. Florence Muranga, it is projected that Shs196 billion will be used for agro-inputs, Shs16 billion for capacity building, and Shs1.6 billion for ICT systems.

Muranga, said that the commercialisation process will comprise various steps including; automation and scaling at four levels, technology transfer to viable communities for primary processing and bakery projects through business incubation.

She added that the process will also entail scaling up operations through the industrial technology Park at Sanga to deliver the wider banana industrial sub-sector to the nation as well as Building a global marketing and distribution network.

“The commercialisation phase of the pilot plant is key in ensuring that the company meets its target of breaking even within three years and becoming self-sustainable in four years,” said Muranga.

According to Andrew Matovu, the marketing manager BIRDIC, these steps will enable it to become a 100 billion sales revenue entity within five years,” said Muranga.

“The process is also aimed at positioning BIRDC to target new markets emerging in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia,” said Matovu.

TOOKE is a registered trademark under PIBID, The Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development Project (PIBID) established by the Government of Uganda in 2005 with the mandate to pilot the banana research that was generated at Makerere University into tangible socio-economic outcomes.

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