Uganda is one of the leading consumers of bananas globally. For centuries, farmers have selected and preserved more than 80 varieties of bananas and plantains all with different social cultural uses, aromas, tastes and economic value. Now, this biodiversity is threatened by agribusiness corporations who, says Edward Mukiibi, introduce genetically-engineered banana varieties in the country under the guise of promoting scientific research.
“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 Mukiibi, who is the president of Slow Food International and leader of Slow Food Uganda.
Up until 2000, the Ndiizi banana was widely distributed in the central, western and eastern regions of Uganda. Then it was struck by several banana diseases like Black leaf streak, Fusarium wilt, weevils and the banana xanthomonas wilt. 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.