In Kenya, bananas are one of the most common fruits. Banana farming is one of the most lucrative sources of income for farmers with more than 10M tons being produced in East Africa where most of them are grown by small-scale farmers.
Banana in farming in Kenya is in most cases grown in Eastern, Central, Western as well as coastal regions. The excess bananas are sold in local market for cooking or as fruits when ripe. However, farmers in Kenya continue to suffer due to poor harvest and through transportation as bananas require intensive care while transporting. However, bananas can be added value and expand their demand and value. Some of the value addition that we recommend are very simple and can be done by the farmers at the farm as they require less time and other factors of production and the profit is great. Below are some of the value additions that we recommend;
Farmers in Kenya, can process banana to make banana flour. The banana flour has great potential for commercialization due to its numerous uses and health benefits. The banana flour can either be fortified or used as it is to make nutritious porridge and when mixed with other flours it can make a variety of dishes such as chapati, mandazi and banana cakes.
- Remove green bananas from the bunch.
- Slice into small pieces with the peelings so as to maintain the nutrients in the peels.
- Sun-dry on the rack, until 10% moisture content is achieved. You can test by gently pressing the cuttings.
- Mill and sift
- Package and store in a closed, dry place.
Bananas can be used to make crips just like we make potato crisps. If you are a farmer and you can manage to make crisps, you will smile all the way to the bank.
- Pill green bananas
- Chop your bananas
- Dipfry the chopped pieces
- Pack and label them.
Sometimes when you have a lot of bananas, they overripe and we are tempted to throe them away. This should not always happen as with the most basics of equipment; a farmer can turn his or her bananas to a sweet and enjoyable jam. Bananas with sweet taste, fine flavor and texture can be processed into excellent jam right in the farmer’s kitchen, both for domestic and commercial use.
- Mash the bananas and put in a heavy saucepan with lemon juice, and honey.
- Heat the mixture until it simmers over medium heat and then turn to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool until it is cool enough to taste.
- Let the jam cool completely to room temperature – it will thicken up as it cools.
- Package and store in the fridge for a week or less.
As a farmer, you can experiment with various flavours like vanilla, cloves or cinnamon depending on the tastes of your customers.
It can be hot sometimes in Kenya and we all enjoy fruit juices. However, getting a fruit juice that is fresh and free from chemicals is hard. Banana juice/smooth can be very tasty, refreshing as well as healthy.
- Put ripe sweet bananas into a blender.
- Add milk.
- Cover blender and run it on low for 10 seconds.
- Put orange juice into a small bowl or a cup.
- Add honey to the cup.
- Stir to mix them well.
- Add the honey mixture to the blender.
- Cover the blender and run it on low for 30 seconds.
- Package and store the juice in dry cool place
Bananas can also be used with other products to make sweets, biscuits, wine, beer as well as sauce. By so doing, farmers can earn more money and satisfy different tastes of consumers who do not like eating raw bananas. To improve their bargaining power farmers should be organized into grower’s associations. Establishing factories to process bananas into various products; improvement of infrastructure to ease transportation of bananas. There is also need for government and other shareholders to help farmers with knowledge and finances and empower them in this world of bananas agribusiness.
Don’t just grow bananas, value add them!.