I’m Bagada Monday Richard, 32, and a Ugandan. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management and am also in advanced stages of finishing a Master’s degree in agribusiness management from Makerere University.
I hail from one of the most marginalized regions in Uganda. Having had a troubled past, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom remains heavily underdeveloped and people’s access to services is still very low; below the national average.
Uganda is one the leading banana producers in the world and is ranked second in the world to India in terms of Banana production. Bananas are an important economic resource for rural farmers in Uganda. With a total annual production estimated at about 10 megatonnes, the crop ranks high among enterprises that support livelihoods of smallholder poor rural farming communities.
About 75% of Ugandan farmers grow the crop on 1.5 million hectares of land, an estimated 38% of arable land under use. Domestic per-capita consumption of bananas in Uganda is estimated at 220–460 kg: the largest in the world.
In an effort to change and empower the community, I started a one-acre banana plantation. As an agriculturalist, I made sure that I got the right banana varieties that were free from diseases. I had to buy tissue cultured banana seedlings from around 250 km away.
Interestingly, when I successfully managed to get my banana seedlings to my village, this draw a crowd of onlookers as most of them thought these were flowers and not banana seedlings. Indeed this was the first time many of my village mates had seen banana seedlings.
I took time to explain to them including the advantages of planting these varieties. After over one year when I had planted these (Flowers) turned banana seedlings, my farm become a beehive of activity and a village model as most of my village mates are coming to see the bananas and obviously the good agricultural practices at the farm.
I started training farmers and distributed the small amount of suckers to the other farmers such that they can start producing their own Bananas. I have also secured more seedlings and also planted some of the suckers from my plantation.
I am now boosting of two acres of banana plantation and still growing more. I have started harvesting some of the bananas and I quickly realized the need for value addition for increased incomes, employment opportunities and community empowerment.
Banana ‘wine’ production
Wine production is little known in Uganda. However, this is changing and thanks to the bananas. With an increasing middle income class in Uganda, wine consumption has increased and indeed has a promising future.
Early this year I started a winery and with help of two young men we have stocked up to 20 jerry cans of banana wine that’s undergoing fermentation. This will be ready for sale by August this year.
The sweet banana wine will be the first to be produced from this part of the world. The La Grande wine will be bottled and marketed with the region.
Given the peace and stability that has started to prevail in South Sudan and DR Congo, I believe this is a potential market for The L Grande wines.
The community will indeed benefit from producing bananas to supply the winery but also through employment opportunities provided by the winery. This will strongly impact on the lives of the community and help to uplift the living standards of the community.
What motivates me is to really create impact in the community through the value chain approach. I believe that through banana production farmers will have a market for their produce and also be food secure in their homes. Through this approach we shall help to empower communities to become financially stable as well as ensure food security in their homes.
Once chosen as the YAP champion, I will use the funds as follows:
- USD 1,000 training of farmers in agronomy and good agricultural practices for banana production
- USD 1,000 for procurement of banana seedlings for the farmers groups
- USD 2,000 for procurement of winery production and bottling materials
- USD 1,000 for Uganda Bureau of Standards certification process.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Bagada Monday Richard (Uganda): bagada[at]hotmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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