Banana Scarcity – How Uganda is going to loose out on the $4bn World Market

 Banana Scarcity – How Uganda is going to loose out on the $4bn World Market

Business persons are weary of the recent banana scarcity. With the current situation, there’s panic hitting the businesses that depend on the banana plantation to thrive and the panic is hitting. Banana plantation are becoming increasingly riddled with diseases and weevils.

The result is that production of banana plantation is much less leading to farmers selling their products at high costs, inadvertently affecting the businesses negatively.

In a bid to fix the ongoing problem, at least 30 research scientists from across the globe are currently in Kampala for a 3 day workshop to discuss the control of pests and diseases of bananas using biologically based methods.

Banana plantation in Busiika
Banana plantation in Busiika. FILE PHOTO

Researchers from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium, and Cuba talked about their experiences, lessons and approaches to tackle the problem of banana diseases.

The workshop was organized by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration
with National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Real IPM, International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) with support from the European Union. The workshop held to focus on how to reduce on-farm banana loss.

At the workshop, the head of National Banana Research Program of NARO, Dr Jerome Kubiriba, said;

Uganda would be earning more $400m from banana production but the plant especially the variety of sweet banana and bogoya have been plagued by weevils and nematodes yet they are the one that fetches the most income at the international market.

He added;

The international market for dessert bananas earns as much as $4bn but as Uganda, we are not participating in that market because of low production due to diseases that affect those particular species

The production of banana is approximately 10 tons per hectare per year where it should be 40 tons per hectare per year which is expected production rate.

The researchers came up with possible reasons for the low production rate. These included; the influence of changing climates in tropical and sub-tropical regions, which exposes banana crops to pathogens and pests due to higher multiplication rates and prevalence induced by temperatures and rainfall patterns.

Recent problems of landslides and dry spells in past couple of months have also been said to contribute a great deal to the scarcity.

Kubiriba placed some of the blame on the Ugandan farmers who, he said, tend to grow banana plantain purely for food consumption and lack the business sense to consider the income they could potentially generate from it.

This has contributed to farmers putting minimal effort in having high banana plantain production. The next step after the understanding the cause of the banana scarcity is finding solutions to boost production and eventually hit the set targets for banana plantains.

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