Members of Kasunganyanja Banana Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited in Bunyangabu district have expressed frustration over lack of transport for their bananas as prices drop to as low as Shs 500 per bunch of banana.
Despite efforts by government to curb losses incurred by banana farmers by encouraging value addition for their produce, members of Kasunganyanja cooperative say they have no means to transport their bananas to Bushenyi district, where the banana processing plant is located.
In 2011, under the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID),a banana processing factory was commissioned in Bushenyi to add value to bananas and save farmers from the losses that are common during peak season.
However, according to the cooperative’s Secretary General, Dr. David Begura, Kasunganyanja cooperative has been unable to transport the bananas to the processing plant which is located about 140kms away.
“We can’t transport our bananas to either Bushenyi or other areas where we would get some good sales because we don’t have our own transport (lorries) to carry them and yet hiring is also expensive” he says.
Begura says their current customers are traders from Kampala who still buy their bananas for as low as between Shs 500-4000 for a bunch, but even these, he says, are few and far between. Stranded farmers have resorted to feeding the excess bananas to cows and goats, while others are left to rot.
“We also don’t have the capacity to add value to our bananas since we do not have the capital to purchase machines for making banana flour, juice, wine, banana packaging, bottle filling, crisps among others” he says.
Begura called for government to come to the cooperative’s aid by providing them machinery for value addition so as to enable them reduce losses during peak banana season.
Value addition urgent
Jane Mary Kwikiriza, a banana farmer in Kakinga town council Bunyangabu district, says organized farmers need to start adding value to their produce in order to avoid losses.
“Bunyangabu district is known for growing bananas, and each household has at least an acre of bananas. This means much of our market is from outside our district, but we do not have market all the time,” she says.
Kwikiriza says the only way out for them is to start adding value to their produce and asks for government support in this endeavour.
The Bunyangabu district LCV Chairperson, James Ategeka says the district under the Local Economic Growth Support (LEGS) project is planning to support farmers including Kasunganyanja banana cooperative by providing them lorries to transport their bananas from the farms, to collecting centers and on to other urban markets.
“The project would have kicked off but because of the lockdown some activities were paralyzed,” Ategeka says.
LEGS is a project by the ministry of local government that was launched last year and is set to be implemented in 12 districts including Bunyangabu to address issues of water for production, agriculture production, infrastructure and food security.
Kasunganyanja banana farmers’ cooperative society was formed in 2017 to provide farmers with a platform for strategic planning in order to address their core challenges.
The cooperative is active in the nine banana-growing sub counties in Bunyangabu district.
Production in Bunyangabu currently stands at over 86 Lorries per week, according to the cooperative’s Chairperson, Bintason Benedict Rwakabale.
Rwakabale says their objectives include increasing production, productivity, quality products, bulk marketing, disease control and value addition.