By Anderson Tosin
Uganda, known as the “Pearl of Africa” for it’s natural beauty and rich cultural diversity, lies at the shore of Lake Victoria in East Africa. It is the world’s second most populous land-locked nation after Ethiopia. Gaining independence from Great Britain in 1962, the country spiraled into a series of devastating conflicts for decades. Dictators, warlords, and the AIDS epidemic ravaged Uganda, and left this fertile country as one of the poorest in the world.
Ugandans have an unusually low life expectancy. The average person lives just 59 years. Poverty is ubiquitous and 38% of Ugandans still live on less than $1.25 a day.
Green bananas (Matooke) provide food and income for entire nations, but that’s not the only interesting thing about them. The fruit is radioactive, it’s an endangered species, and Uganda is one country in the world where each person eats nearly 200kg of them a year.
Worldwide, bananas are the most popular and most traded fruit. In terms of value, bananas are the fourth most traded crop plant after wheat, rice and maize.
Plaintains and green bananas (matoke) are a staple part of the diet in Uganda and much of East Africa. Matoke is also the name given to a delicious, rib-sticking plantain stew that is a Ugandan national dish. Versions of matoke, also known as matooke, are served in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
Uganda has the highest per capita consumption of bananas in the world. The average citizen munches through 191kg of the fruit every year – roughly three bananas a day. They’re so important to the country’s diet that the word Ugandans use for food, “matoke”, is also the name of their banana-based national dish in Uganda food is not considered a full meal, if it is served without Matooke.
Skills training, like bee-keeping and brick making, have been transferred to the communities, paving the way for new income opportunities.
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