Researchers are implementing a new project to explore increased use of roots, tubers and bananas (RTBs) and technologies to reduce their postharvest losses in Uganda. The European Union is funding the US$4 million, three-year project that began last year.
Four RTBs — cassava, sweet potatoes, cooking bananas and Irish potatoes — were selected last year, according to Diego Naziri, a postharvest specialist at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Uganda and the leader of the project.
Naziri says that unlike in Asia, the full potential of RTBs has not been realised in Africa despite their benefits. Naziri explains that Africa lacks technologies for storing RTBs, resulting in an underdeveloped potential for value addition.
Enoch Kikulwe, an associate scientist at Biodiversity International, Uganda, says research on cooking bananas will reduce postharvest losses by promoting varieties with a longer shelf life and better postharvest handling properties.
The project will pilot a new weight-based pricing system and promote different consumer products, including peeled and preserved bananas, Kikulwe adds.
Monica Parker, a scientist with CIP, says they would assess postharvest innovations and gender-sensitive approaches to enable value chain actors strengthen opportunities and access other outlets besides those available for Irish potatoes.