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Gates Foundation’s US$13.8mn project to improve banana cultivation in East Africa

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has launched a US$13.8mn Seed Farmer Market Consumer (SeFaMaCo) programme to improve banana production in East African countries by developing higher-yielding, disease-resistant varieties

The five-year programme will help to establish better banana production in parts of Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania and also improve food security in the region.

The project will also support the on-farm testing of banana hybrids to improve the technical capacity of the breeding programmes in the region.

According to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this programme will strengthen partnerships with farmers and will develop local human capacity by supporting eight PhD projects and five MSc research projects in the East African countries.

According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Uganda and Tanzania produce over 50 per cent of all bananas grown in Africa and the region’s yearly banana crop is valued at US$4.3bn.

However, banana production in both countries achieves just nine per cent of its potential yield due to pests and diseases.