Banana is one of the world’s most favorite fruit. And with good reason! Not only do bananas offer a plethora of healthy Vitamins, good carbohydrates and high amounts of potassium, high levels of iron and fiber; they are also low in sodium and offer you an instant energy snack on the go. They are delicious, easily portable and highly nutritious. Many countries grow bananas, especially the tropical countries, and they are then exported to America and Europe. Though bananas first originated in Asia, now they are also grown in other parts of the world like South America, Australia, Latin America and Africa.
How are bananas grown?
Bananas need a constant temperature, and also humidity levels. Both are found in tropical regions, as opposed to the cooler climates of North America and Central Europe. The optimum temperature to grow bananas is between 55 to 100 degrees, and exposing the plant to lower temperatures results in freezing of the plant. Also, the plant needs to be protected from chilly winds, as these can cause the fruit to break off from the plant and be blown away.
Since the banana fruit is heavy, it needs to be propped up in order to prevent breaking of the plant. Yes, unlike what you may have thought, banana doesn’t grow on trees! It grows on a plant, which can grow to about 15 to 30 feet tall; making people think it might be a tree. This plant requires a damp environment with heavy rainfall to thrive. Also, bananas are not grown from the seeds. Instead, they are grown from the roots or what are called as ‘rhizomes’ which are removed from the original plant and then re-planted in well drained soil to give birth to a new plant.
Once a new banana plant is put in place, it takes about 11 to 15 months before the fruit can be harvested. This may differ from variety to variety, but that is not the only consideration. Weather conditions also play an important role. Bananas come from the ‘Musaceae’ family which also includes other plants likes orchids, palms and a few grasses.
The interesting fact is that one can even grow bananas in containers, especially the dwarf variety where the size can be adjusted as per the size of your indoors. However, for those who live in warmer climates, bananas can easily be grown in your kitchen garden. This works especially well, since the dwarf varieties in banana also come infused with pleasant flavours like lemon, apples and vanilla.
Countries growing bananas:
That was all about the kind of climate, weather conditions and the kind of soil bananas need to grow. Now, let’s come to the question of where bananas grow. The countries producing the largest amounts of bananas are India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Africa, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama. Bananas are grown in over 100 tropical countries, though not all of them export their bananas. The major countries importing bananas are those in North America, Europe and even Japan.
Asia is where bananas originated and till date Asia produces the highest number of bananas. The most bananas are grown in India, though they don’t export the fruit very much. The entire crop is consumed within the country itself. However, even China. Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand are top banana producers and these countries export their fruit as well.
The biggest exporters of bananas in the world are Philippines, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Columbia. These countries together make up for 75% of the bananas eaten in the rest of the world, with Ecuador being the largest exporter. Ecuador alone ships out 33% of the banana that is exported internationally.
In South America and Latin America, the largest producers and exporters of banana are Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico. Smaller quantities are also grown in Honduras, Panama and Guatemala.
Africa makes up for a smaller percentage of bananas grown worldwide, with major exporting regions being Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon and Burundi.
This is a statistical analysis done in 2007 on the top banana producing nations.
- India – 21.77 million metric tons
- Philippines – 7.48 million metric tons
- China – 8.04 million metric tons
- Ecuador – 6.00 million metric tons
- Brazil – 7.10 million metric tons
- Indonesia – 5.46 million metric tons
- Thailand – 2.00 million metric tons
- Costa Rica – 2.08 million metric tons
- Mexico – 1.96 million metric tons
The various types of bananas and their uses:
The grocery kinds of bananas come in 2 main types, which are the fruit you are well familiar with and plantain. Though fruit bananas are more widely known across the globe, plantain are used mostly in tropical regions where it is cooked in to meals, vegetables and gravies. It is a drier and starchier kind of banana, with a lower water content that makes it ideal to be cooked up. This banana is never eaten raw, unlike its fruit counterpart.
Bananas are very healthy. They help lower blood pressure, aid in digestion, can cure anaemia and depression and are even good for weight loss. Moreover, bananas are great to prevent gastro-intestinal problems and can improve brain power. However, it isn’t just the fruit that is widely used. From a banana plant, all parts are used in some way or the other, making this a highly functional and versatile kind of crop for any farmer. The leaves are used to wrap food and roast in. the flowers are edible too and are used in many recipes, along with many home remedies to cure problems like bronchitis, ulcers and even diabetes. The inside of the banana plant trunk is cooked and eaten in many regions of the world. Even the roots are used for Ayurvedic medicines to cure dysentery, apart from growing new plants. And that isn’t all, even the fibres of banana plant are used to weave cloth and make paper. Have you ever heard of another plant, where each and every part is used in so many versatile ways?
- where are bananas grown