NARO engages stakeholders to scale up production of bananas in Gulu

GULU – National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) engaged Gulu district stakeholders in an effort to scale up commercial production of bananas in the district.

During a meeting at Paicho sub-county in Gulu district, Milton Tenywa, a Research Officer at NARO noted that, Acholi and Lango sub-regions consume bananas worth Shs 24 billion annually yet only produce bananas worth Shs 6 billion locally from the two sub-regions.

“We want more farmers to start growing bananas so that they earn that remaining Shs 18 billion and export some to our neighbors in South Sudan,” Tenywa said.

Tenywa also argued that bananas are a good perennial crop for farmers in Acholi sub-region considering that they don’t have any.

“Farmers in Acholi sub-region lack a reliable perennial crop. Every season, farmers must till the land to plant crops,” he said.

NARO established 25 banana demonstration sites in Paicho sub-county in 2020, from which 400 farmers received training on banana growing.

The research organization also generated tissue culture seedlings which it distributed to 86 farmers. The 86 farmers are now each expected to supply free suckers to two farmers in 2022.

“We now need partners to help scale up banana production and tell farmers that they can earn more from farming through bananas,” Tenywa said.

He further added that, “If well maintained, an acre of land can earn a farmer up to Shs 9million annually.”

He said that a similar project implemented in Western, Central and South Western Uganda has seen banana production increase from 5 tons to 30 tons annually in the last five years.

Gulu district Production and Marketing Officer, Jackson Lakor noted that banana production is mainly done on subsistence level and not properly managed because of the belief that the crop cannot do well.

“The few farmers growing bananas lack proper knowledge on how to plant, manage and market the crop. You will find a banana farm having 20-30 plants which produce very small bananas,” he said.

Lakor however said, Gulu district has a huge potential of producing bananas commercially because it has good temperatures and receives adequate rainfall.

“Gulu receives 1500 milliliters of rainfall annually which is adequate for banana production, we also have adequate land,” Lakor said.

The Production Officer noted that there is a need to organize a farmers’ stakeholder platform at parish or sub-county level to make access to inputs and skills easier and cheaper.

“In order to change the mindset that bananas cannot grow well here, we need to establish demonstration sites where farmers can learn from,” he said.

Brigadier General Francis Ongom Achoka, the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Coordinator for Acholi and Lango sub-regions said, bananas would be included among the priority crops to be supplied to farmers in 2022.

The five-year project worth Shs 36 billion is funded by USAID through feed the future-a non-governmental organization.

It is also being implemented in Alero sub county in Nwoya district, Amach sub-county in Lira district and Myene sub-county in Oyam district.

Its target is to have more than 8,000 farmers in Acholi and Lango sub-region to embrace commercial banana production in the next three years.

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