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“Peeling the Potential of Bananas for Food and Income Security”

Analysis of the Banana Value Chains(s) in Tanzania and Uganda

Funder: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Status: Completed

The product of this analysis was a report submitted to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November, 2012. It presents the results of a study undertaken to 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. The report also describes the challenges and opportunities facing the banana sub-sector and offers recommendations for developing a more efficient and enhanced production, processing, and marketing system that focuses particularly on smallholder enterprises along the banana value chain.

Key Findings

  • Bananas are one of the main income-generating commodities in the region with an annual income of about US$1,244 /household to over 4 million small-holder households. Furthermore, it is one of the cheapest sources of carbohydrates, fruiting all-year-round putting it above others as a food security crop.
  • Over 90% of all bananas grown in Uganda and Tanzania are produced by smallholder producers cultivating small plots of land of less than 1.0 hectare. The gap between yields under research conditions and those under on-farm conditions is enormous pointing to a huge potential to increase productivity.
  • Per capita consumption of 238.33Kg and 84.16Kg in Uganda and Tanzania consecutively are among the highest in the world. Over 60% of the population in these countries rely on bananas as a staple food. This percentage can go as high as 95% in traditional banana growing areas such as Kilimanjaro and Kagera in Tanzania and Central Uganda. Interestingly, the study revealed that, bananas are popular across all income groups.
  • Consumption already exceeds production. For instance, Kampala city only receives I million MT of fresh bananas annually whereas the actual demand stands at 3 million MT per year. Such a high demand is driven by increasing population, urbanization, increasing household income, awareness of the nutritional value of bananas, emerging new cross-border markets and improvements in road infrastructure. The low levels of current exports also suggest there is considerable potential for more international trade.

To attain the productivity of about 60 MT/Ha and meet the ever increasing demand, there is need to increase productivity from the current annual average of 5.5 MT/Ha in Uganda and 9.3 MT/Ha in Tanzania by:

  • Promoting integrated soil fertility management and water conservation in banana production systems. This should be coupled with disease and pest control and use of clean planting material to enable farmers produce all year round and realize high quality bananas for the market.
  • Investing in early maturing varieties to reduce the period from planting to harvesting. This will smoothen out the supply curve of bananas and hence stabilize banana prices.

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