Vacuum packing technology could have Ugandans abroad enjoy matooke

Demand for Matooke among Ugandans living in the diaspora remains. But how to get it there has been the issue. Also, ready bananas have a very short shelf-life limiting exports to Europe and America where a number of Ugandans live.

But one Ugandan food Scientist Dr. George William Byarugaba Bazirake has found solution that is already seeing Matooke follow Ugandans to the Diaspora.

Dr. Byarugaba has since 2009 been piloting on his pealed Vacuum-Sealed banana value addition innovation that is gaining popularity in the UK and U.S., which have large populations of Ugandans in the Diaspora and now Australia.

Through vacuum sealing, Dr. Byarugaba says the pealed bananas can now last up six months before they get spoilt. They are also easy to transport given each of the peeled banana finger is reduced by about 40% after pealing.

The bananas have got a big demand at restaurants and supermarkets in areas where Ugandans in the diaspora reside. Dr. Byarugaba says Karibu restaurant in Boston one of the top importers.

Bayraugaba says over one hundred metric tonnes of Matook had been exported to UK, US and Australia by end of last month.

The Vacuum- sealed Matooke has turned out as one of the success stories under the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development.

Under the project, bananas are purchased from farmer in Mbarara, pealed, then vacuum sealed ready for export.

The inferior fingers of the banana are ripened for processing into wine. Dr Byarugaba and his team also tested on the option of cook and tinning the bananas ready for eat but that has not materalised according to Byarugaba.

Byarugaba says he plans to market the product locally at supermarkets, hotels and schools.

Although Uganda produces 8.45 million tons of bananas annually and is second only to India in terms of production of the fruit worldwide, it is 40th in terms of the amount of bananas exported each year.

That’s because of the short shelf life of the fruit, and Uganda’s distance from markets in the developed world.