Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, October 26, 2012

Matooke Agribusiness Incubator

Biogas from peels burning
The Afri Banana Products Limited, formerly Incubation and Diversification of Banana Products for Agribusiness (IDBPA), aims to upscale innovations and improve entrepreneurial skills in banana production- to – marketing value chains with emphasis on capacity building for increased production, development of SME’s, training in entrepreneurship and agribusiness at B.Sc. and M.Sc. levels, linking of research innovations to agribusiness, and marketing of banana and its value added products including disease-free seedlongs, fresh peeled and vacuum sealed bananas, vinegar, banana wine, enriched animal feeds, biogas, charcoal briquettes, biodegradable bags and textile fibre materials.

Hereunder follows an interview with Dr. Byarugaba Bazirake, director of Afribanana Products Ltd. He was interviewed by PAEPARD during the EAC-Europe Food Security Thematic Policy Dialogue organised by CAAST-net.
Dr. Byarugaba Bazirake responds to following questions:
  • What motivated you to researh matoke and find a solution for the enormous amount of banana garbage?
  • How did you manage to extend the shelve life of matoke?
  • How important is extending the shelve life of matoke for Ugandans living abroad?
  • How do you bring the diverse chain actors together?
  • Where did you get the idea of a value chain approach around the matoke / banana plantain?

Bananas(matooke) constitute a very important staple crop in Uganda, and are being grown by 75% of the country’s farmers on 40% of the total arable land.

The triploid, Musa acuminata East African highland cultivar (AAA-EA genotype) locally known as matooke predominates banana production in Uganda and provides major food for over 7 million people including two thirds of the urban population. Bananas are so important in Uganda so much so that in some parts of the country the word “matooke” means both “banana” and “food” and the crop contributes about 35% of total food consumption expenditure. 

The Uganda’s per capita consumption of bananas ranges between 220kg and 460 kg per year according This banana per capita consumption is the highest in the world.
The demand and supply of matooke in urban areas has come with associated problems of: 

  • Discoloration due to enzymatic reactions and oxidation after peel inefficient transportation (40% waste) with undesired bulk garbage accumulation (over 500 ton/day) in Kampala. 
  • Costs high ($7/ton ) to dispose garbage (KCC). 
  • Perishability-short post-harvest shelf-life. 
  • Soil nutrients depletion from banana plantation due to: Poor agrarian management systems Transportation of waste which would serve as manure to urban areas
Banana by-product utilization. Production of:
  • Biogas 
  • Vinegar 
  • Enriched animal feeds 
  • Charcoal briquettes 
  • Fiber-biodegradable (textile,bags) 
  • Manure,mulch,etc.
Matooke Bulk Marketing problems: They include: 
  • Poor (road network) infrastructure 
  • High fuel prices for transporting trucks 
  • Weak reconditioned trucks 
  • Lack of organised markets 
  • Quick spoilage of raw food materials 
  • Lack of value-addition technologies
Innovation Objectives
The technological approach objectives were to:
  1. inactivate enzymes responsible for browning (oxidation) of peeled matooke. 
  2. preserve and prolong shelf life of the peeled matooke as a food stuff. 
  3. reduce transportation load that is very bulky
  • Sodium metabisulphite was purchased from “Desbro” (food grade chemical dealers) in Industrial area,Kampala, 
  •  vacuum sealer (Micromark, UK) was obtained from Midway Technologies,Kampala. 
  • The jaws hand peeler type (ED MARK, Malaysia) machines were purchased from Lugogo at the International Trade Fair,2007 and 
  • the transparent non-permeable vacuum sealable plastic packaging materials were procured from Shoprite, Kampala.
 Research Methods

  • The research work was done at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute(UIRI), Kampala. 
  • In the experimental study, the matooke were sorted, weighed and peeled using jaws hand peelers . 
  • They were washed in treated tap water and grouped into two categories. Category 1 was immersed in sodium metabisulphite –distilled water solution (1000 ppm) for 30 seconds to inactivate enzymes responsible for browning and serve as antimicrobial agent, drained in a stainless steel metal-mesh with reciprocated agitation for 5 minutes, vacuum sealed and labeled. Category 2 was just drained (untreated) and not vacuum sealed . 
  • The products were stored at chilling temperatures (100C)and set for further observations.
Matooke shipped to the US targeting
10,000 Ugandans consumers.
Dr. Byarugaba Bazirake stands second left.
  • Approximately 60% of the matooke was obtained after peeling .They were stored under chilled conditions. 
  • The vacuum sealed matooke remained fresh as desired by the consumers for 10 days. 
  • The untreated matooke (control) turned brown after a few minutes and had moulds grown on them on the fourth day of storage(shelf-life). 
  • The banana waste was returned to rural areas profitable utilization as manure, livestock feeds, fuel (biogas) source and for inoculation of starter cultures useful in vinegar production.
  • matooke can be processed & preserved into a food stuff that is convenient to prepare with prolonged shelf life (10 days). 
  • Bananas can be transported from rural areas to the user ends at reduced logistical expenses by prior peeling to eliminate averagely 40% of waste.
  • Waste products can be used as manure to fertilize and replenish matooke plantations besides supplementary usage like biogas production and formulation of animal feeds. 
  • Rural based industries should be set up to process and solve the logistical problems involved in bulky post harvested food handling in Africa.
Further Background:
Dr. Byarugaba Bazirake is a lecturer of food technology and biotechnology at Kyambogo University and works with Prof. Wilson Byarugaba of Kampala International University Western Campus.  The project was given part of Uganda Investment Authoritys land in Mbarara Industrial Park and has been able to put up a factory which opened on March 15 this year. The site was selected because of its proximity to the matooke-producing areas of western Uganda. Twenty-five people are currently employed in the factory.
  • Bazirake says he came up with the idea after UNESCO sponsored his research in 2001. 
  • In 2006, President Yoweri Museveni contributed $2,000, which was used to purchase hand peelers. In the same year, he won the first Presidential Scientific Award at an exhibition in Munyonyo. It was then that he wrote a proposal to UNCST, which was approved in 2008.
  • They also got financial support from the Ministry of Finance in the financial year 2008/2009.
  • FREVASEMA is one of the projects funded by the Government under the presidential support to scientists through Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

The Afri Banana Products Limited, aims to upscale innovations and improve entrepreneurial skills, through training and mentoring, identification and/or development of viable research innovations and linkage to agribusiness, information generation and dissemination, community mobilization and market linkages, provision of business services to Incubatee SMEs, setting up a consortium comprising membership from Universities, Research Institutions, Private Sector Companies and Government Support Agencies.

The consortium is led by Kyambogo University with the following as members; Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Excel Hort Consult Ltd, FREVASEMA, Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Uganda Carbon Bureau and Adaptive Seed Company.

Read more on UniBRAIN ABP

Vacuum sealed banana - Uganda's latest export

Vacuum-sealed cooking banana ready for sale or export - George Bazirake
Vacuum-sealed cooking banana ready for sale or export
© George Bazirake
Cooking banana, known in Uganda as matooke, has a relatively short shelf life - too short for fresh bananas to be easily exported and sold in Europe. But in a new initiative, a Ugandan company has begun to export peeled, vacuum-packed matooke, which can last for up to a month. This is an exciting way of adding value to a crop which occupies nearly 40 per cent of Uganda's arable land. Wambi Michael talks to banana experts, an exporter and a consumer about the new innovation.
Interview by:
Date published:
January 2010

Bananas could replace potatoes in warming world
Philip Thornton
Climate change could lead to bananas becoming a critical source of food for millions of people, a new study has claimed.

The study, Impacts of climate change on the agricultural and aquatic systems and natural resources within the CGIAR’s mandate, should help decision-makers at all levels prepare better for future food production on our warming planet.

Read the policy brief by CCAFS that outlines the challenges required in feeding the estimated 9–10 billion people who will live in this world by 2050. In the brief, the need for a complete recalibration of what crops we grow and animals we raise around the world is detailed, as climate change will bring challenges in weather, water use, and increased pests and diseases of crops and animals alike.
Researchers from the CGIAR agricultural partnership said that the fruit might replace potatoes in some developing countries, the BBC reported. The authors of the report also said that cassava and the little known cowpea plant could play increasingly important roles in agriculture, as temperatures rise and people will have to adapt to new and varied menus as traditional crops struggle.

Responding to a request from the United Nations' committee on world food security, a team of experts in the field looked at the projected effects of climate change on 22 of the world's most important agricultural commodities. They predict that the production of world's three biggest crops in terms of calories provided - maize, rice and wheat - will decrease in many developing countries.

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