Presidential banana project poorly managed - report

Some of the workers at the  matooke processing pilot plant in Bushenyi District. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The report recommends a value chain approach for BIRDC financial self-sustainability, strict adherence to a results-oriented management style, tenable job description parameters for top management. 
  • Others are the need for two independent science and commercialisation branches in BIRDC company, real and proper oversight authority by a board, adherence to government procedures and processes, timely and consistent funding.

The Presidential Initiative for Banana Industrial Development in (PIBID) has not achieved its intended objective since 2005 when it was launched, a report has revealed.

The initiative was designed to help smallholder matooke farmers in Bushenyi District (now greater Bushenyi five districts), enhance their yields, and add value to the raw matooke.

A state-of-the-art matooke processing pilot plant was established at Nyaruzinga, Bushenyi, between 2017 and 2018, but it is yet to produce products on a commercial scale.

According to the 2020 report sanctioned by the Directorate of Socio-Economic Monitoring and Research under the Office of the President, the initiative suffered many challenges, including  managerial.

“The PIBID project has had a litany of problems and has made very little or no progress at all towards achieving most of the stated objectives above between 2005 and 2020. The lack of a theory of change for the PIBID meant that the project started off in the darkness of what was realistically possible and impossible to be achieved given the context of the Ugandan environment,” the report, conducted by Resdev Consult Limited, reads in part.

 “The PIBID Technology and Business Incubation (TBI) centre and (Industrial Technology Park) ITP are currently not functioning as designed due to the lack of articulating theory of change for the project,” it adds.

The main objective of the study was to examine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability in relation to the objectives of the project.

The study found that the PIBID objectives were well aligned with the national priorities because before its launch, matooke farmers suffered heavy production losses due to the banana bacterial wilt disease.

They were also faced with low farm-gate prices. But between 2010 and 2016, the PIBID helped farmers fight the banana bacterial wilt through training in agronomic practices.

“In terms of effectiveness, the PIBID project did not generate benchmarks, SMART project indicators and realistic project targets around which to work in order to achieve project objectives,” the report reads in part.

“Without realistic indicators and targets set, the PIBID project has not been able to qualitatively and quantitatively determine whether change has occurred or not for many of its stated objectives between 2005 and 2020. The overall performance of the PIBID has been extremely poor,” it reads.

The report attributed the project failure to intermittent and or slow release of funds to PIBID by the government, which led to “very poor performance.

Others are lack of compliance to government procedures, poor planning, poor design, poor governance and management with no effort to reduce the design-actuality gaps, running of too many project components at the same time and failing to complete any of them.

The researchers also observed lack of implementation of the human resource policy, lack of proper board authority for management and oversight, lack of a participatory exercise in the  Banana Industrial Research and Development Centre (BIRDC) design process, lack of a value chain growth approach, lack of implementation of the human resource structure, among other challenges.

The PIBID project ended in 2015 as a legal entity and the BIRDC was incorporated as a company by guarantee in 2019 although it has not commenced operations, pending organisational issues.

According to the report, the government has since injected Shs177b into the initiative between 2005 and 2020.

Some achievements

The project, however registered some achievements following the establishment of the matooke processing pilot plant. The plant produced Tooke flour, Tooke crisps and confectioneries.

The project has also helped matooke farmers improve farm yields, a 24 acre matooke demonstration site with yields of about 50 metric tonnes per hectare per year was set up, a modern water supply serving Bushenyi rural communities on a seven-kilometre stretch has been made and farmers forming cooperatives, among other achievements.