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Value addition: 7 products you can make from bananas

Bananas are considered the second most important fruit in the world. They are also considered a domestic market fruit, so to speak, since most countries produce them. Kenya herself is a top 10 producer of bananas according to stats by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Farmers in Kenya recognize that bananas have one of the “highest value of enterprise per unit area,” as revealed by a Hortfresh Journal breakdown. The Government too not only supports its cultivation but also value addition.

A successful cooperative society in Kakamega County is testament of this. The society got sh.7 million funding from the National Government Affirmative Action Fund plus further technical training by the KIRDI. The society has gone on to produce a variety of banana products, a bunch of explored in this article.

Like all fruits, bananas have plenty of “derivatives.” Fruits can be used in flavoring for instance, and there’s no limits to how far anyone can go with that.

(You can check out our other resources on value addition, in addition to this list)

Value addition: Maize

Value addition: Potatoes

Value addition: Tomatoes

Value addition: Avocados

Value addition: #HerDiary

So, what are some products you can produce from bananas by themselves?

1. Flour
Photo: Naturally Yours

Flour can be produced from bananas to different degrees of fineness. The product is like wheat flour but cheaper to produce, due to availability of the fruit. Typically, it’s produced from green banana pulp. The pulp is dried then ground to produce flour. The funny thing is that the entire process can be done by hand – that wouldn’t make sense for business purposes practically speaking.

2. Pastries
Photo: Betty Crocker

Banana flour is a product by itself. It can also make other products there is a market for. Don’t you just love capitalism? It works. The flour can make bread, cakes, pancakes, cookies and all other pastries people have come up with. If you can work it into a dough, banana flour fits.

3. Crisps
Photo: Anil Traders

Eggs and kachumbari are ok. But crisps will always be the top snack food. They can be made from bananas. The fruit is sliced and fried into crisps just as potatoes are.

4. Jam, Puree, Chutney, etc.

Let’s not get caught up in semantics. The products in the title, and others similar, are essentially the same thing. They are all made from crushed fruit. Because ripe bananas are used for them, it’s important to use an anti-browning agent like citric acid (lemon, for example). The paste can then be flavored as you see fit – or your customers. Whatever.

5. Alcohol
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One day the Government will stop fighting traditional alcohol. Did you know banana beer is considered an East African (Great Lakes) heritage? Another banana alcoholic drinks exists in the form of wine. The process to produce either is relatively similar, save for fermenting. They are both derived from ripe banana paste. The paste is strained to produce juice, which is diluted and heated with water plus flavoring (sugar). Sorghum for beer and wine yeast for wine is added to produce the desired product on fermenting. Sterilization and packaging help avoid a Government raid.

6. Fertilizer

Fertilizer can be made from banana peels. Yeah, we used to live a pretty sustainable life before our ancestors got colonized. The peels are put away in water to come up with a solution nutritious to plants. The liquid fertilizer is produced with the peels filtered out. Banana fertilizer has all the nutrients we associate with bananas like potassium.

7. Fibre
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Saving the best for last? No, we’re like marriage (haha, okay we support marriages). Banana fibre is a raw material for the textile and paper making businesses. It is derived from the pseudostem. A specialized machines is used to thread it into fibre.