Many of people know bananas as simply a food crop. But bananas in their different variety provide a lot of opportunities not just for food security but also producing different products and earning stable income for farmers and traders.
Gabula Atudde Women’s Group of Mukono in Uganda outlines the types and uses of bananas and how the different banana varieties can be used to empower individuals and communities.
Cooking Bananas for food: The Matooke variety which is grown in different parts of Uganda is mostly used for food. It is best prepared when streamed and wrapped in banana leaves. Once known as a staple food for Buganda only, Matooke is a widely consumed food in the whole of Uganda today. You can grow or trade in this crop since many Ugandans buy it often for food in their homes.
Ripe banana or Amenvu: Many people think Matooke cannot be eaten as a fresh ripe fruit. But Matooke if ripened can be consumed and sold as “amenvu”. There are also banana varieties which we in Uganda know for “amenvu” which we feat on as yellow bananas.
You must have seen those local varieties locally known as “ndizi” and “sukali ndizi”. These form a delicacy in many parts of Uganda for example in Bugishu, the ripe bananas “Elitofu” are widely eaten even as a meal accompanied with sauce! Some people consume these ripe bananas as desert, while others enjoy eating them at any time. These bananas are demanded all year round in all parts and provide a good business opportunity.
Banana for Roasting (Gonja): If you have traveled along Mbizzinnya, Namawojjolo, Mabira (Najjembe) Lukaya, Kinoni, you must have seen the many people engaged in roasting a banana type which in Uganda we call gonja. Many people travelling across these roads like to stop at these and other points to have Gonja, one of the favorite eats for many Ugandans. It is sold at many highways and market places. You can start a business by bringing Gonja nearer to the people where you stay. Many farmers in Uganda grow Gonja as a cash crop.
Some bananas are used to make Juice/Wine. The Embidde, kayinja, kisubi, kivuuvu and related types produce drinks that are vital in Uganda’s social landscape. These form like 25% of the banana varieties in Uganda.
These bananas are used to produce a delicious banana juice or Omubisi. It is wonderful and nutritive beverage that requires no sweeteners unlike most beverages. It is self-sweetening. Because of this characteristic it contains plenty of natural yeast that is why it can easily ferment into alcohol. It is another money minter for small-scale production. The concept lies in extracting this sweet delicious banana juice/Omubisi, process it and put it on market as an organic juice before it gets to ferment.
The juice/ wine type of banana trees provide a lucrative business of
1. Banana leaves/endagala for food steaming and making the famous luwombo dish.
2. Banana fibers/ebyaayi for crafts, which attract foreign currencies, used for roofing, making attractive ceiling and making ropes. The banana fibers make good paper.
3. Essanja (dried leaves) to make shift huts (ensiisira) shelter especially during last funeral rituals when too many people gather that may not be accommodated in the available houses.
4. Mulching the banana gardens. This caters for moist soil and sees the banana plants through the drought season.
5. Occupation to housewives and employment to many casual laborers in the given community.
6. Provides domestic livestock feed as the cattle, goats and sheep thrive on banana peels, and the poultry enjoy peaking on the banana leaves.
HOW TO MAKE BANANA JUICE (AS PER GABULA ATUDDE CONCEPT)
1. Ripes of the juice banana, variety
2. Commercial blender
3. Safe drinking water
4. Skilled person to extract the juice.
5. A storage facility/refrigerators
6. Chemical preventives (benzoates &citric acid)
7. Suitable packaging materials (labels & bottles)
1. Collect the mature banana fruit bunches (Fruit collection & sorting)
2. Cover them in a well-lined pit or convenient place with the banana leaves for some 3-5 days, depending on the banana maturity, to make them ripe faster.
3. Peel them in a clean container (commercial blender)
4. Blend well so as to extract the juice (pulping)
5. Extract the juice through filtering the product attained after blending, the filtrate is the omubisi and the residues are useful livestock; dairy cows, pigs, goat etc.
6. Use preservatives if not for immediate consumption as it contains a lot of natural yeast, which takes further the fermentation process, so must be stopped immediately after extraction of juice.
7. Packing; this is imperative to work on rejuvenating the consumers’ attitude towards local beverages and to improve the cooperate image.
The significances of banana juice or omubisi
1. Environmental protection and offers nutrient recycling
2. Income generating
3. Natural sweetness so no need for additives or flavorings and can even be consumed by diabetics.
4. Nutritive food/beverage and make livestock feed
5. Medicinal as it treats many forms of allergies and sooths stomach ulcers
6. Completely organic so no worry about overdose
8. Locally available and produced so pocket friendly
9. Omubisi as a beverage (soft drink) can ferment into alcohol