Blessing Rwizi and Sharon Chigeza
MUTARE-headquartered Greenit Diversified Group (GDG) Pvt Ltd has taken up banana flour production, with 15 qualified workers having been recruited since August 2017. The idea was the brainchild of two Mutare youths, Messers Munashe Musarurwa and Ropafadzo Zimunya to redefine job creation and restoration of food security in Manicaland.
The flour is generally produced when green bananas are peeled, chopped, dried, and then ground. The process can be completed traditionally by hand where the bananas are sun dried, oven-dried, or a residential food dryer and then either ground in a mortar and pestle or with a mechanical grinder.
The green banana process requires 8–10 kg to produce one kilogram of banana flour. After winning the 2017th edition of the Padare Pitch Night, where they displayed their business idea in front of Mutare business gurus, Messrs Musarurwa and Zimunya went home with $5,000 cash and injected part of it into their business.
They source green bananas from Mutasa, Honde Valley, Chipinge and Chimanimani. More machinery is expected to be set on site within the next two weeks and the company is appealing to the local business community for more profitable and bigger markets.
“We are literally producing our flour from bananas and it tastes just like any other plain flour on the shelves, regardless of its banana flavour. It is ideal for baking and cooking, the same way wheat flour is used. It is already in demand from a number of restaurants around Mutare,” said Musarurwa.
“The banana flour innovation is advancement in food security by perfectly fitting well as a wheat flour substitute with health benefits such as its gluten free, low carbohydrate and high potassium properties,” he added.
“We have also taken into consideration, over 7 000 households that are failing to get lucrative markets in Mutasa, Honde Valley, Chipinge and Chimanimani, regardless of their big produce. We are buying bananas from these areas so that families have their livelihoods changed,” Mr Zimunya said.
“We started off our business for profit making but the vision has been changed to be driven mostly by the need to create jobs for the small scale banana farmers within the Eastern region,” he said.
Banana flour has gained the attention of nutritional researchers and dieters as an excellent and useful source of resistant starch. Preliminary research has shown that increased resistant starch intake may reduce risk of obesity, diabetes and colon cancer.