Banana Ripening, Juice processing and Wine processing Technologies | Postharvest handling, Value Addition and Marketing (Value Addition)

a. Ripening Uniformity of ripening is a ey challenge for good postharvest handling of banana fruits. In Rwanda, the most commonly used method for ripening is the underground technique which involves digging a pit (called “Urwina” in the local language) in which dried banana leaves are placed as a lining and used to create heat inside the pit (Figure 1). Bananas are then assembled into the pit and covered by non-dried Read more..

Description of the technology or innovation

a.  Ripening
Uniformity  of  ripening  is  a  ey  challenge  for  good  postharvest  handling  of  banana  fruits.  In Rwanda,  the  most  commonly  used  method  for  ripening  is  the  underground  technique  which involves  digging  a  pit  (called  “Urwina”  in  the  local  language)  in  which  dried  banana  leaves  are placed as a lining and used to create heat inside the pit (Figure 1). Bananas are then assembled into the pit and covered by non-dried banana leaves, before soil is added over the leaves. According to research, the ripening of bananas in the pit takes about five days with a minimum of three days and a  maximum of eight days depending on the climatic  conditions. This  method of ripening usually leads to a lower quality of ripe bananas  because  the process  is  not controlled, hence  leading to a poor quality of  juice and wine. It takes a longer  time  for  the bananas to ripen and they are often damaged;  and  the  ripening  is  not  uniform.  As  part  of  efforts  to  improve  the  traditional  ripening methods, a specially designed room (Figure 2) that simulates the conditions in the ripening pit was used. Through the tunnel that joins the outside wall and opens into the ripening room, a heat source from the burning waste of agricultural produce is forced in so as to maintain a temperature of 35– 40°C  in  the  room.  In  order  to  maintain  the  desired  temperature;  the  constructed  walls  should provide insulation and all openings should be closed to avoid  heat-loss. As part of the initiative to improve  banana  ripening;  a  ripening  house  was  constructed  at  Mutendeli  sector,  Ngoma  district, Eastern province for COPROVIBA. As a result of this innovation (improved ripening method); the ripening capacity was increased from 2.5 tons to 6 tons per week .


b.  Juice processing
Banana is a major crop in Africa, serving both as a food crop and as a cash crop. One of the major constraints to the production of banana is its perishability, because of its low shelf life. As part of the initiative to improve shelf life, value addition and  conventional processes used in banana juice processing  are  seen  as  critical.  Raw  banana  juice  is  turbid,  viscous  and  grey.  The  turbidity  and viscosity  are  caused  mainly  by  the  polysaccharides  it  contains,  such  as  pectin  and  starch.  Pectin makes  the  clarification  process  harder  because  of  its  fibre-like  molecular  structure.  The  use  of commercial enzyme preparations in the fruit juice processing industry to facilitate juice release and increase  juice  yields  is  well  established.  In  the  case  of  bananas,  use  of  pectinolytic  enzyme preparations  seems  to  offer  the  only  means  of  extracting  juice  from  banana  fruits.  In  Rwanda, banana juice is extracted by using a rudimentary traditional method (Pic 1) that extracts the juice using  feet for mashing and pressing the  banana  fingers, which  are  mixed with a  local grass/ herb called “inshinge” in the local language. The conventional process for the clarification of fruit juice
aims  to  eliminate  insoluble  solids  and  destroy  pectic  substances  by  degrading  pectin  and  starch using  specific  enzymes  or  by  causing  the  cloudiness  to  flocculate  through  addition  of  clarifying agents (bentonite, gelatin or silicasol) and then filtering through the plate and frame. The innovation was banana juice extraction using pectinolytic enzyme to produce banana juice with a high degree of clarity. Under natural conditions; banana juice is  characterized by natural cloudiness due to its starchy concentration.


c.  Improved banana wine processing technology
Scientists,  processors  and  ey  stakeholders  in  banana  production  have  made  concerted  efforts  to deal with the issue of perishability of bananas. Technologies such as wine making have therefore been embraced as a key value-adding process. However, there  is still need to improve the existing processes  for  producing  banana  wine.  This  is  mainly  because,  of  the  turbidity  and  viscosity  of banana  wine,  which  is  caused  by  the  polysaccharides  (pectin  and  starch)  that  are  present  in  the banana  juice.  Pectin  makes  the  clarification  process  harder  because  of  its  fibre-like  molecular structure. The fermentation process is the catalytic f unction that turns banana juice into an alcoholic beverage. It has been reported that during fermentation, yeast consumes sugars in the beverage to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. In winemaking, there are three (3) important factors that must be  considered  in  order  to  produce  a  good  quality  clear  wine.  These  include:  optimum  levels  of oxygen (which is necessary when fermentation begins), temperature and therefore makes it possible to produce banana wine with a high degree of clarity given  the natural cloudiness of banana juice arising from its starchy concentration. The improved banana wine processing technology has been able to reduce post harvest losses by 50% and enhanced farmers’ income by 80%.



Assessment/reflection on utilization, dissemination & scaling out or up approaches used

The banana juice processing technology was disseminated  to the stakeholders through workshops, training,  and  communication  materials  such  as  posters  leaflets  and  booklets.  Several  posters; leaflets; and booklets were distributed during the annual agriculture shows, visits and study tours. Since  most  of  the  stakeholders  are  only  able  to  read  in  their  local  language,  the  communication materials were written in Kinyarwanda and then translated into English. The trained farmers and or processors  who  adopted  the  technology  will  themselves  continue  with  dissemination  of  the technology  since  they  will  serve  as  ey  diffusion  points  for  the  technology.  One  of  the challenges  to  the  dissemination  of  the  technology  is  that;  some  cooperatives  stopped  working because of mismanagement. Therefore, there is need for vibrant farmers’ cooperatives to adopt and scale-up these technologies. A key lesson learnt is that use of different dissemination strategies is important.  For  instance,  some  processors  or  farmers  were  not  interested  in  formal  training,  but listened to the radio programs every day. Multiple approaches, including radio and TV programs, should therefore be used in future to sensitize and disseminate the information to the stakeholders.

Economic Considerations

The  project  led  to  80%  improvement  in  the  production  and  working  conditions.  From  only  200 crates a week (800 crates a month) in 2009, by the close of 2011,  the cooperative had the capacity to handle 4 tonnes of banana a week. Today, COPROVIBA  is producing up to 1,200 crates of wine a week (4,800 crates a month or 57, 600 crates a year) from a mere 200 crates a week (800 crates a month or 9,600 c rates a year) in 2009.  Selling each crate at Rwf 5000, the cooperative today earns Rwf 6  million a week (Rwf 24million a  month) from wine  sales. In 2009, they  earned only Rwf 1million a week (Rwf 4million a month).

Gender considerations

Both men and women were represented during the postharvest training on banana beverages. Both male and female agri-business entrepreneurs present during the training easily followed the banana juice  processing  protocol.  They  have  been  applying  the  techno logy  in  their  own  respective businesses as well as in the cooperatives where they belong.

Case study or profiles of success stories

Cooperative  de  Production  du  Vin  de  Banane  COPROVIBA  cooperative,  at  Mutendeli  sector, Ngoma  district,  Eastern  province  the  Eastern  Province  of  Rwanda,  is  set  to  become  one  of Rwanda’s  most  acclaimed  rural  and  farm  based  entrepreneurs.  But  only  three  years  ago, COPROVIBA was only a rudimentary rural banana wine brewers using rudimentary and unhealthy methods such as foot stamping to extract juice from crudely ripened banana. The key challenges in the banana wine production process was uneven ripening of banana. COPROVIBA ripened bananas by  burying  them  underground  and  covering  with  leaves  to  generate  heat.  Another  option  was
hanging  banana  in  a  house  and  smoking  it  raise  the  room  temperature.  Using  these  rudimentary methods meant waiting for up to eight days for the bananas to ripen. Even then, the ripening was 86% not uniform. Most processors used their feet to stamp the ripe banana to extract juice, which was  unhygienic  and  unhealthy.  The  juice  would  be  fermented  for  up  to  15  days  in  20  litre  jerry cans. However, determining the desired fermentation or brewing limit, or desired sugar levels were more or less acts of discretion. The implications were unpleasant. First, it would not be possible to standardise  the  brand  sugar  level,  secondly,  many  times  fermentation  continued  in  the  bottles leading to build up of pressure and bottles bursting while being transported. 

The wines were sold mainly in the capital city, Kigali, at Rwf 5,000 per crate (and retailed at Rwf 400 per bottle). “COPROVIBA capacity was limited, so they produced only 150 to 200 crates per week and earned 750,000 to 1,000,000 francs a week depending on the production level.

In  2008,  ASARECA  and  RAB  intervened  to  raise  the  quality  of  value  added  banana  products, especially  wine  and  juice  in  the  eastern  province,  the  leading  banana  area.  The  priority  was  to address  hygiene,  banana  quality  and  processing  issues  through  training  on  pre  and  post  harvest handling. The project also facilitated access to and sharing of information on best banana farming practices, and  juice wine  handling  innovations.  ASARECA and  RAB promoted FHIA 25  banana
varieties. The variety is resistant to BXW and is the best for juice and wine. Farmers were trained to produce quality banana bunches and todate they supply three tonnes of banana every week to the cooperative. The cooperative buys banana from the farmers at 80 francs per kilogramme. A bunch of 100kg can therefore fetch 8,000 francs. 

ASARECA also built a ripening room for COPROVIBA with a capacity of 4 tonnes of banana per ripening session. During ripening, moderate heat is introduced into the room, hence expediting the rate of ripening. The period of ripening has been reduced from eight to three days. The good quality of  banana,  uniform  heat  application  and  uniform  room  conditions  have  led  to  uniform  ripening leading to high quality juice. Hygiene has drastically improved with the elimination of rudimentary methods such as burying, foot stamping, adulteration with soil, contamination by micro-organism’s etc. The project led to 80% improvement in the production and working conditions. From only 200
crates a week (800 crates a month) in 2009, by the close of 2011,  the cooperative had the capacity to handle 4 tonnes of banana a week. Today, COPROVIBA  is producing up to 1,200 crates of wine a week (4,800 crates a month or 57, 600 crates a year) from a mere 200 crates a week (800 crates a month or 9,600 c rates a year) in 2009.  Selling each crate at Rwf 5000, the cooperative today earns Rwf 6  million a week (Rwf 24million a  month) from wine  sales. In 2009, they  earned only Rwf 1million a week (Rwf 4million a month).

To date, the cooperative is proud of other improvements like in-house quality testing which ensures, improvement of the shelf-life of their wines.  Previously, they could not tell the shelf life, but now, they  are certain  it  lasts up to two  years. The wine  is  sold all over Rwanda through a  network of distributors located in each of the six provinces. The distributors pick the wine from the main depot based  in  Kigali city. The transportation, distribution and  marketing  have  become a  big enterprise with potential to expand further, with the growth of the sector. 

Aware of the looming potential, the cooperative has moved to acquire a standards license from the RBS. They are now in the process of attaining a quality mark.  These processes are part of posturing for product and market expansion.  

The  story  of  COPROVIBA  serves  to  illustrate  that  supporting  emerging  agro-based  small-scale enterprises  has  the  potential  to  improve  rural  livelihoods  and  set  off  a  value  chain  that  can  spur growth of  African economies. Rwanda government has set  up mother gardens  for BXW resistant varieties as part of the efforts to make banana more productive. 

Contact details

Shingiro Jean Bosco
Lead Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788865789
Fax: +250 530 560

Semasaka Carine
Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 782270608

Irene Mukandahiro
Extension Officer, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788622525

Gatera I Eric
Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)

Lea Ndilu
Technician, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788526384

Gerardine Nyirahanganyamunsi
Technician, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788632325

Murebwayire Christine,
Managing Director, Cooperative De Production De Vin De Bananes (COPROVIBA),
Secteur Mutendeli, Ngoma District
Province de l’Est, Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250-788-536121

Additional information

Processors and farmers were trained on ripening, production  of quality juice and wine, and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). COPROVIBA started with 4 low-salaried workers, but now they have 23 qualified employees (including graduates), who are paid according to their qualifications, and granted other benefits like social security funds and medical insurance.
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