Presidential banana industrial development project starts mass production

Rev Dr Professor Florence Isabirye Muranga, the Director General of the PIBID and the Banana Industrial Research and Development Center (BIRDIC) rides a tricycle during the launch of the new distribution tools dubbed Tuku-Tuku on June 7, 2023. PHOTO/ BUSEIN SAMILU

Innovators in the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development Project (PIBID) have started mass production of the items, making them among the few innovations that have transitioned from research to commercialisaton stage.

The project is a flagship project of the government that was established by president Museveni in 2005 with an aim of adding value to bananas.

Its establishment followed a study which estimated that over 10 million tonnes are produced every year yet about at least 10 million people feed on bananas as their main food in Uganda, creating a lot of wastage.
PIBID aimed at offering rural farmers with technical/ scientific services, outreach, research and development opportunities in sustainable banana production, sustainable and competitive value addition to bananas, business and product process development, product quality assurance and safety and process/ product technology transfer and commercialization.

Through one of its sub-projects dubbed TOOKE, innovators under the project have in two years managed to add value to banana through making items like; Tooke (banana) flour, Mandaazi, Doughnuts, Bread, Cakes, Scones, Crisps, and Biscuits.

Rev. Dr Professor Florence Isabirye Muranga, the Director General of the PIBID and the Banana Industrial Research and Development Center (BIRDIC), while commissioning the new distribution tools dubbed Tuku-Tuku (Three-wheel motorcycles) on Wednesday said that the project has employed a big number of youth from the farm level to distribution.

“Our products are made out of Tooke flour. Incomes of our farmers will definitely increase as we extensively distribute Tooke products, we have created employment for the youth as well as retailers. As we venture into the international market, we shall attract forex – which is crucial to the development of our country,” she said.

The 17 Tuku-Tukus, according to Dr Muranga, will help in distribution of products to retailers in the four divisions of Kampala [Nakawa, Makindye, Lubaga and Central], stretch to eastern in Jinja, Mayuge and Namutumba districts as well as in western Uganda [Bushenyi and Kiruhura] where they are based.

“We have internally built resilient structures to counter any challenges that may come our way. Tuk-Tukus are not in direct competition with existing sales infrastructure; rather they will ensure a steady supply of products both to retailers and wholesalers. In other words, they will complement the existing infrastructure,” she said.

Mr Mathew Bagonza, the executive member of the Presidential Advisory of Exports and Industrial Development said that the development will help the government raise the exports volume which currently stands at $6 billion.

“We shall continue carrying out market research across the globe to ensure that we further support Tooke to expand its market from only Uganda to the entire globe,” he said.

Speaking at the same function, Isaiah Ssemamuli, Sales Manager of Tooke said that the commissioned the Tuk Tuk vehicle distribution model is built on a door-to-door sales strategy that intends to supply to schools, hospital canteens, grocery stores, supermarkets, small shops, and any other customer touch point that can be visited on a daily basis.

“We intend to cover all parts of the country starting with Eastern and Central Uganda. The wider distribution footprint has been in Western Uganda and this is attributed to the location of our pilot plant in Bushenyi,” he said.