Slow Food Uganda Launches New Presidium To Protect Ndiizi Banana Varieties

10 Mar 2023

On March 10, 2023, in the remote farming village of Ndaiga, in Sembabule district, central Uganda, the second Slow Food Presidium in the country is being launched to protect the Ndaiga Ndiizi Banana.

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“Uganda is home to a rich banana biodiversity and is one of the leading consumers of bananas globally, but this biodiversity is threatened by agribusiness corporations, who introduce genetically-engineered banana varieties in the country under the guise of promoting scientific research. For hundreds of years, farmers have selected and preserved more than 80 varieties of bananas and plantains all with different social cultural uses, aromas, tastes and economic value. This is why it’s important for our movement to support the farming communities that are protecting and defending this diversity which underpins our food sovereignty,” says Edward Mukiibi, President of Slow Food International and leader of Slow Food Uganda.

Bananas in Uganda are produced as a staple food for domestic consumption. Different types of bananas play different roles in Ugandan cuisine, in particular the ‘Apple banana’, locally called Ndiizi Owaffe, which is a small dessert banana belonging to the AAB genome group. Up until the year 2000 the Ndiizi banana was widely distributed in the central, western and eastern regions of Uganda, before its fortunes were struck by several banana diseases like Black leaf streak, Fusarium wilt, weevils and the banana xanthomonas wilt transmitted by insects attracted to the sweet nectar produced by the plant’s flowers. These diseases have forced local scientists to developing high-yielding and disease-resistant breeds like the Narita and Kabana hybrids.

The new Ndiizi Presidium is being founded in recognition of the fact that the Ndiizi banana variety is at the verge of disappearing. The Ndaiga Ndiizi Banana Presidium’s 43 members belong to the Nkumbi Eyamba farmers’ group; the secretary, Christopher Ssenyonjo, expressed his willingness to avoid activities that would lead to further biodiversity loss in their community and that a strong collaboration with Slow Food Uganda would help strengthen local awareness of the importance of preserving biodiversity.

During the event, Presidium farmers will officially adopt the Ndiizi banana production protocol which was developed by the farmers in collaboration with the Slow Food Uganda office. The launch is expected to bring together over 100 participants of different backgrounds including locals, cooks, partner organisations, banana experts, students and food communities.

The launch will include a number of activities including:

An informative workshop

Where participants will take part in an educational session on the history of bananas in Uganda, the country’s banana biodiversity and the benefits of conserving it.

A sensory workshop

Hybridized banana varieties are characterized by poor sensory attributes. This session will present an opportunity to explain the Ndiizi banana in depth, with an analytical tasting of different banana varieties.

Entertainment

School children from the community will present entertaining songs and poems aligned with the day’s theme for guests to enjoy and learn.

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