Kayinja or Mbidde Banana

Ark of taste
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The kayinja or mbidde banana belongs to the Musa genus, and is still being grown in very limited numbers in parts of Uganda, especially the central Kayunga District where it is a strong part of local economy, traditions and culture. Locally, the fruits are peeled and squeezed to extract a juice, which can either be consumed fresh or fermented to make a mild to strong alcoholic drink called tonto or bwakata. Furthermore, the juice can also be distilled to produce different spirits, called waragi, kasese or mandule, depending on the distillation technique and alcohol content to the final product. In times of drought, fresh and green kayinja will be peeled, chopped and dried. These pieces are later ground to make a flour that can be mixed with other foods and eaten in lean food times.  

Kayinja has been an integral part of the culture of many tribes in throughout much of Uganda like the Banyoro, Basoga and Baganda people. The juices and beers made from kayinja are considered sacred drinks, and are mainly used in times of community gatherings and believed to be drinks that please the gods. This is especially shown when a bit of the drink is poured onto the ground before any one else drinks. Kayinja has also been used for many years as a landmark for demarcating land boundaries, and from this use it derives its name: kayinja ka lusalosalo (loosely translated meaning a cornerstone for land boundaries).  

In central Uganda, this fruit can be found growing near Lake Victoria, and near Lake Kyoga in Kayunga District. In parts of eastern Uganda, like Kamuli and Bunyoro Kingdom, it can also be found. It is sold at local markets and in rural villages, and also harvested for community consumption. Kayinja, however, his highly susceptible to banana bacterial wilt, which has claimed so many hectares of the variety in just a few years. There is also an increasing rate of banana hybridization, which has led to the loss of the original variety in many areas, and ongoing research in this area threatens the future survival of this banana variety.

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Other info


Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Baganda, Basoga, Banyoro