Assessing the potential contribution of banana-based production systems to improve the nutrition of smallholder communties in Eastern Africa, Kampala, Uganda

Published on 22 June 2010

Research Areas

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Start Date: 1 September 2007 | End Date: 31 August 2010


Funded by the Dutch government, the aim of the AE Programme is to assist in the economic and social development of developing countries and contribute to the achievement of the goals, objectives and implementation of the international cooperation activities of the host organisation (Bioversity in this case). The AE has the opportunity to gain relevant experience in international cooperation activities through hands-on learning and contributes to the overall goals of the AE Programme- the economic and social development of developing countries. The Programme considers technical assistance, policy advice and capacity building as the main tools for achieving these goals.


In East Africa, although the total banana and plantain production may be considered adequate to feed the regional population dependent on bananas as a staple, childhood malnutrition (particularly vitamin A and iron deficiency) is a significant public health problem in banana growing regions. This is due to the nature of the predominantly vegetarian diet, with high bulk but low energy and nutrient density. To help address these nutritional constraints, over the grant period to date the AE has:


  • Established a database on consumer preferences, uses and processing of banana varieties in banana growing regions of Eastern Africa (DR-Congo, Uganda and Burundi).
  • Conducted nutrient analyses to determine the retention of provitamin A Carotenoids (pVACs) in Musa fruit during post maturity development and processing –
  • Conducted bioavailability studies to determine the levels of pVACs available to the body. This research will help determine the banana product characteristics that enhance or inhibit bioavailability of nutrients.
  • Contributed to the research funded by CIALCA and Harvest plus (see separate grant listings).
  • Surveyed agricultural, dietary and health practices of banana-growing and consuming communities of Burundi and DR-Congo.
  • Reviewed stakeholder roles in the nutrition and banana research community, as well as the innovation systems’ by which smallholder farmers gain knowledge of new technologies.
  • Developed a manual on ‘linking agriculture to nutrition and Health’ for community resource persons.
  • Established four model gardens to promote food-crop diversification in banana growing and consuming communities to be able to diversify the food crops they grow within the banana systems and promote dietary diversity.
  • Produced trilingual brochures/leaflets with key messages on nutrition.
  • Establish collaborations with key actors in the nutrition and banana sectors and community groups.
  • Started to develop, improve and analyze GIS datasets of banana systems, culture distribution, related environmental and climatic datasets and poverty, nutrition and health.


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