Banana Ripening, Juice processing and Wine processing Technologies | Postharvest handling, Value Addition and Marketing (Value Addition)
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%.
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.
Shingiro Jean Bosco
Lead Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788865789
Fax: +250 530 560
Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 782270608
Extension Officer, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788622525
Gatera I Eric
Scientist, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Technician, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788526384
Technician, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB)
Tel: +250 788632325
Managing Director, Cooperative De Production De Vin De Bananes (COPROVIBA),
Secteur Mutendeli, Ngoma District
Province de l’Est, Kigali, Rwanda