Mitooma Farmer Reaps in Distilling Gin from PHIA Banana Variety

Deo Tukwasiibwe a resident of Rurama village in the western rift valley of Kiyanga sub county Mitooma district is one of the rural farmers who have found fortune in Agriculture.
Deo Tukwasibwe mitooma farmer standing alongside his treasured Phia banana plant
Deo Tukwasibwe, a rural farmer from Rurama village in the western rift valley of Kiyanga in Mitooma district has found a fortune in adding value to the exotic PHIA banana variety.

PHIA, also known locally as Kabana is a multipurpose variety from National Agricultural Research Institute –Kawanda. It can be roasted, fried, or eaten fresh although it is more difficult to peel and takes a little longer to cook. 

Tukwasibwe uses the banana variety to produce a local gin known as Kiyanga waragi. The initiative was born out of a misfortune in which the 46 year old lost 20 hectares of a popular variety to a banana wilt disease that hit the area in 1988.

With 10 banana suckers at his disposal in 2005, Tukwasibwe revived his plantation. Today he has planted over 30 hectares of PHIA. Upon harvest, he starts the process of distilling gin.

From four bananas suckers, Tukwasibwe gets 80 liters of concentrated juice. The juice is mixed with 40 liters of water to make 130 liters which are fermented with sorghum. It is later distilled, yielding 20 liters of waragi, each sold at 90,000 Shillings.

Tukwasibwe produces between 70 and 100 twenty liter Jerry cans of distilled waragi, giving him a return of between 7 to 10million Shillings per month. Tukwasibwe says this is an increase from the 10 jerrycans he distilled before the introduction of PHIA, which is a high yielding variety compared to the indigenous banana.

Kiyanga waragi has gained demand in the nearby markets of Kihihi, Rwenshama, and Bukurungu in Kanungu and Rukungiri districts. Some of it is exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He says his job would improve with financial support and additional training in distilling and packaging.

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Benon Karyainja, the Mitooma district chairperson welcomes the initiative as a case of value addition to a crop variety which in most parts of Uganda is seen as a low value enterprise only eaten as a ripe snack.

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