Uganda is going to start exporting banana products to Europe.
The revelation was made by Mathew Bagonza, an executive member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development.
Bagonza said currently Uganda exports stand at about shillings 222 trillion ($6 billion), underscoring the importance of growing this by taking advantage of the international markets.
He made the remarks as the Banana Industrial Research and Development Center (BIRDIC) commissioned a new generation of Tuku Tuku vehicles to improve Tooke distribution.
BIRDIC uses research to develop and market banana-based valued-added products. It has now embarked on a drive to popularise Tooke flour and related products, by improving their distribution network countrywide.
BIRDIC is the successor of the Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID).
Bagonza said the drive will help to improve the exports of the country.
"We were tasked to make sure that we make (our export) doubles to 12 billion USD. We have to make sure that Uganda has a presence on the international markets. We are now going to look for the market in Eastern Europe that is Serbina. We are telling the Serbian that as much as you see bananas in the markets and the hotels, we have done value addition that you can pertain to," he said.
Speaking during the commissioning of a new generation tools of trade (Tuku Tuku), the Director General of the PIBID and BIRDC, Rev. Dr. Professor Florence Isabirye Muranga, said that streamlining the distribution process and equipping agents with the tools to deliver quality products to the market was an integral part of making sure the initiative harnessed the success of research and development.
The Tuku Tuku vehicles will distribute a wide range of Tooke products which include; Tooke flour, mandaazi, doughnuts, bread, cakes, scones, crisps, and biscuits, among others.
Muranga said that the market is littered with gluten-rich confectionary products and that enhanced distribution of Tooke products would ensure a healthier choice of gluten-reduced products which are healthier for human consumption are available across the country.
"As the society becomes more health conscious, they will demand more of products that are of high quality and that meet health requirements and that's why research is important," she said.
"Our products are made out of Tooke flour. Incomes of our farmers will definitely increase as we extensively distribute Tooke products, we have created employment for the youth as well as retailers. As we venture into the international market, we shall attract forex - which is crucial to the development of our country," she added.
According to Isaiah Ssemamuli, Tooke Sales Manager, the Tuk Tuk vehicle distribution model is built on a door-to-door sales strategy that intends to supply to schools, hospital canteens, grocery stores, supermarkets, small shops, and any other customer touch point that can be visited on a daily basis.
"We intend to cover all parts of the country starting with Eastern and Central Uganda. The wider distribution footprint has been in Western Uganda and this is attributed to the location of our pilot plant in Bushenyi," said Ssemamuli.
Andrew Matovu, the Marketing Manager at the company, noted that this is just the beginning of the commercialisation.
"Today we are commissioning the new generation distribution but we intend to unveil a revised distribution strategy during the launch of our first hub in Jinja." said Matovu.
Muranga applauded Ugandans especially their customers who have continuously bought the products and reassured a steady supply in all the regions of the country.