An NNN-New Vision Special Report by Chris Mugasha
KAMPALA, June 11 — Uganda and other East African Community (EAC) member states may experience a reduction in imports of wheat by as much as 50 per cent once a banana processing plant, the first of its kind in the region, is completed at Nyaruzinga in Bushenyi district in western Uganda.
According to Florence Muranga, the director of Uganda’s Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID), raw Tooke (processed banana flour) is a versatile flour which can substitute for wheat in the baking industry.
“This is lucky because we are going to get something that can substitute wheat,” said Muranga, who added that there is a growing demand for gluten-free products locally and globally. She explained that tooke flour has strategically been positioned as a major ingredient in gluten-free products.
Muranga was speaking at the conclusion Monday of a three-day training in baking at PIBID in Bushenyi municipality where the banana processing factory is to be commissioned.
Muranga said this will not only save the businessmen in expenditure but will also make bread accessible. “It’s a value chain where farmers will fully benefit,” Muranga said.
She further noted that this will help the businessmen who have been grappling with baking because of lack of affordable raw materials.
“We are looking for potential clients who can take tooke flour,” said Muranga, who argued that it was high time Uganda’s scientists begin to turn science into products.
“We should aim at building new enterprises which can help people to generate more money through value addition,” she explained.
The PIBID’s board and management chairman, Frank Mabirizi, said value addition is the way to go if poverty is to become history in Uganda.
The Bushenyi district chairman, Willis Bashasha, saluted the PIBID’s scientists for the knowledge they have invested in Bushenyi.
“People had not appreciated what was going on here until when they saw your banana products hitting the market in different forms,” Bashasha said.
He hailed President Yoweri Museveni for allocating more funds towards the completion of the project despite some MPs’ attempts to block the project’s funding. “It had stalled until our President ordered the release of funds,” he said.
After touring the facility, Bashasha said he was impressed with the civil works, water works and construction activities which are going on at the facility hence employing hundreds.
Bashasha, however, urged the PIBID management to keep the district’s leadership updated on what is taking place. Joan Kenyangi, one of the participants said baking is one of the sectors which has not been given attention, saying, “nobody has ever recognized our contribution to society”.
SOURCE: NEW VISION