Unable to get a job after studying Botany and Zoology at the Makerere University, Deus Mulinde returned to his home town to join his mother’s small banana business.
In many parts of Africa, especially in West, Central and East Africa, bananas are widely eaten and have significant cultural and medicinal values. In fact, countries like Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda consume up to 45 kilograms per person per year; the highest banana consumption rate anywhere in the world!
Bananas are most popularly eaten as ripe fruits (table bananas) with varieties such as Cavendish, Red Bananas, Apple bananas and Gros Michel used in desserts and juices. Other types, such as the cooking bananas (also known as plantains) are cooked, roasted and eaten as food.
Banana wine and Banana beer are also common products of this world-famous fruit. Bananas, especially the cooking and dessert (table) bananas are widely consumed in Africa and are a source of livelihood for many people.
According to UNCTAD, the international trade in bananas has tripled between the 1970s and today. However, the banana export market is still dominated by countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and South East Asia. In Africa, more than 90 percent of harvested bananas are consumed locally and exports are not very common, except in just a few countries.
Today, Mulinde’s farm harvests up to 50 banana bunches (or ‘matooke’ as they’re popularly called in East Africa) every day which sells for nearly $40 at the local markets. On Saturdays, which are major market days, Deus usually sells up to $1,000 worth of bananas!