Sunday June 8 2014

Govt takes matooke porridge to schools

By Stephen Otage

The government has started rolling out the Tooke-flour products to schools as one of the strategies to popularise processed banana products to improve nutrition in education institutions and communities.

According to Prof Florence Muranga, the director Presidential initiative on Banana Industrial development (PIBID), the introduction of the products in schools is among the strategies PIBID is using to take the project to the communities to encourage them to start banana processing which gives bananas a longer shelf life and improves food security.

“Schools are grappling with food shortages because it is expensive to buy and process. Fuel is expensive and food alone consumes a big chunk of the scholastics,” Prof Muranga said in an interview.

In a meeting with head-teachers in Kampala on Friday, PIBID marketing coordinator Jolly Gonahasa said unlike in the past where matooke was consumed straight from the garden due to its perishability, today farmers can process the bananas for longer shelf life to discourage them from transporting it in its bulky form to the city.

“We encourage farmers to start processing matooke since it is now possible before bringing it to the city so that the peelings can be left behind to make fertilisers. Currently, we are producing four tonnes of flour per shift and we hope to produce 16 tonnes per day in powder form soon,” she said.

Mr Paul Gabula, a marketing executive said currently Tooke flour is being used to manufacture confectionaries and porridge.

“Many of us went through boarding schools and the way we used to make porridge is the very way you make Tooke porridge. You can add milk and you can make a matooke meal with,” he said.

about the project
PIBID is a government of Uganda project initiated by President Museveni in 2005 to add value to Matooke (fresh bananas) and it currently has a technology incubation centre in Bushenyi District.

PIBID has been a controversial project in which government injected in billions of shillings. Last year, President Museveni officially commissioned the matooke products but Parliament had started querying delays to commence industrial production.