UK firm pumps $4.3 billion to boost banana productivity in Uganda

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The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) is working in partnership to share its expertise in creating, managing, curating and disseminating scientific information as part of a project to help boost banana production worth $4.3 billion to the economies in Uganda and Tanzania.

Development Communications experts at CABI are collaborating with organizations including the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Bioversity International, Makerere University and Tanzania’s Hort-Tenguru and Maruku Agricultural Research Institute to help improve banana agronomy practices for over 25,000 small-scale farmers in the highland banana cropping systems of East Africa.
CABI is leading the project team in information packaging and dissemination through appropriate channels.
Bananas are both a staple food and economic backbone in East and Central Africa, where over 50 percent of the land is cultivated for banana crops. Despite more than half of all bananas grown in Africa originating from Uganda and Tanzania, banana production in these countries only achieves 9 percent of its potential yield due to pests and diseases and poor agronomic practices.

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As part of the NARO-led project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also working alongside scientists at Makerere University, Uganda, and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, CABI has worked with project team in Uganda to develop a concise technology brief that highlights key topics and messages for farmers and extension workers including site selection, land preparation, appropriate spacing, mulching, improved varieties, water and soil conservation and pest and disease control management among others.

The CABI team provided hands-on capacity building to the project team to tailor communication materials into actionable advice that can be adapted for a range of different media including radio, drama and printed posters and extension training guide that will be rolled out in Uganda later this year and early next.
Christine Alokit, Communication and Extension Scientist for CABI based in Uganda, added that CABI’s work to help the banana farmers grow more and lose less to pests and diseases is being supplemented by the help and advice provided by the CABI-led Plantwise programme which has developed a set of Pest Management Decision Guides for bananas as well as other priority crops.

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