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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters on banana processing

The hundreds of varieties of banana provide food for millions of people in Africa. Bananas are relatively easy to grow, and a common sight along roadsides and in gardens. But on top of their value as a household food, bananas are versatile and nutritious and can be processed into chips, cakes, flour, purees for baby food, and even vinegar and beer. Processed banana products can be a small-scale business opportunity, as we see in this story. Post-harvest processing, especially of common crops such as banana or cassava, is an important way for farmers to add value to their crops and boost their incomes.

For background information on processing bananas, visit: http://bananas.bioversityinternational.org/en/what-we-do-mainmenu-27/processing-aamp-marketing-mainmenu-100.html

Read about some banana products and descriptions of processing techniques at: http://www.techno-preneur.net/information-desk/sciencetech-magazine/2010/july10/Value%20Added%20Products%20from%20Banana/Banana.html

Here you can read all about how to make banana chips: http://practicalaction.org/practicalanswers/product_info.php?products_id=69

Banana leaves and other by-products are also increasingly used in handicrafts: http://www.africanaturally.com/paper.htm

Here are some recent stories from FRW on bananas:

East Africa: Handmade banana briquettes could replace firewood (FRW 66, May 2009) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/05/18/2-east-africa-handmade-banana-briquettes-could-replace-firewood-bbc-news/
-Rwanda: Processing bananas changes lives in Rwanda (FRW 41, October 2008) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2008/10/27/1-rwanda-processing-bananas-changes-lives-in-rwanda-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-mombasa-kenya/

Rwanda: Ban on plastic bags creates new market for banana bags (FRW 94, January 2010)

http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/01/11/3-rwanda-ban-on-plastic-bags-creates-new-market-for-banana-bags-syfia-grands-lacs-spore/

Browse our bank of scripts on food processing here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/food.asp

You may wish to produce a program on local opportunities for small-scale processing. Which crops are commonly processed as street food, for example? Is this only a women’s domain – how common is it to see men engaged in food processing? Is there a surplus of any particular crop in one season, which may provide an opportunity for processing? You could seek out local enterprises which make juice or chips, and ask them how they started, what the difficulties are, and how they have benefited.

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