1. Evolution, description and importance of banana
1. Evolution, description and importance of banana
BANANA - Adam’s FIG / Tree of wisdom / Kalpataru / Apple of
Modern bananas and plantains originated in the South East
Asian and Western pacific regions where their inedible, seed-
bearing, diploid ancestors can still be found in the natural forest
Over many years, various inedible diploid subspecies of Musa
acuminata Colla crossed naturally resulting in the production of
numerous intraspecific hybrids
Some of these hybrids were parthenocarpic, female sterile and
triploid in genomic structure, and local inhabitants discovered that
such plants had edible fruits and could be propagated be
vegetatively by suckers.
In this manner, the superior edible crosses of Musa acuminate would
have been selected, cultivated, propagated and distributed locally as
a food crop.
The edible triploid banana in Southeast Asia were further selected
according to vigour, fruit size and adaptability, and were inferior.
However, in certain areas various edible diploids of Musa
acuminata were also preserved over the years.
Diploid and triploid selections of Musa acuminata were taken by
man to drier mansoon areas where another wild and seeded
diploid, Musa balbisiana, was growing naturally.
In these areas, interspecific hybridization occurred to produce
diploid and triploid crosses of Musa acuminata x Musa balbisiana.
The introduction of Musa balbisiana genes from the drier monsoon
regions into Musa acuminata clones from the humid tropics of
Southeast Asia conferred a measure of hardiness and drought
tolerance into hybrids.
In addition the Musa balbisiana genes, induced greater disease
resistance, improved nutritional value, increased starchiness and
provided hybrids suitable for cooking, as opposed to the pure
Musa acuminata cultivars which are sweeter and more suited to
DISTRIBUTION OF BANANA
Historical references to banana and plantain are many and varied.
The earliest written reference to banana is in Sanskrit and dates
back to around 500 BC.
Edible bananas originated in the Indo-Malaysian region reaching to
northern Australia. They were known only by hearsay in the
Mediterranean region in the 3rd Century B.C., and are believed to
have been first carried to Europe in the 10th Century A.D.
Early in the 16th Century, Portuguese mariners transported the
plant from the West African coast to South America.
The types found in cultivation in the Pacific have been traced to
eastern Indonesia from where they spread to the Marquesas and by
stages to Hawaii.
DESCRIPTION OF BANANA
It is a giant herbaceous plant with an apparent trunk that bends
The banana has an underground stem with adventitious roots. It
is full of food for the plant. Alongside the main stem, it has other
stems called suckers. These stems grow into banana plants. The
banana plant produces its fruit and dies. Another sucker replaces
The banana plant has large leaves closely rolled up
one over the other. Together they look like a trunk, but
they form only an apparent trunk.
Inside it there is a bud which produces
leaves. After 7 or 8 months, when some 30
leaves have grown, the bud produces
The flowers of the banana plant form a large
spike It turns downward, to the soil and
opens. It bears male and female flowers.
together in the shape of hands
A red bud
at the end of the spike
containing the male flowers; the male
flowers die quickly and the bud slowly
The banana plant yields fruits.
These fruits are long in shape,
with yellow or green skin.
The spike produces many
The bananas on one spike are
called a bunch.
On this bunch, the bananas are
clustered in several hands.
The flesh of a banana is light in colour, sweet and soft. In the
middle of the fruit you can see little black specks; these are the
seeds, but they will not germinate
Bananas and plantain are very important
fruit crops in the tropical world.
They are grown largely by small holders
and play a major role in food security and
income generation for millions of the
region’s rural poor worldwide.
In terms of gross value of production,
banana is the developing world’s fourth
most important food crop after rice, wheat
and maize and as a fruit, it ranks first.
More than 100 million tonnes of bananas are produced every year
in 120 countries in over 10 million hectares.
Only about 13 per cent of the world’s banana production is exported
and 87 per cent is consumed where they are produced, indicating,
that banana plays a vital role as source of food and income in
Production statistics in 2004 show that banana is an important crop
in the three major regions namely Asia, Latin America and Africa.
World’s Top 10 Banana Producers (2004)
Top 10 countries
% of total
Rest of the world
India topped the list with 16.55 metric tonnes whereas the
Philippines with a total production of 5.41 metric tonnes came in 6th
after Uganda, Brazil, Ecuador and China.
India with the production of 16 million tonnes of bananas annually,
provides livelihood security to millions of people in production, trade
The fruit contributes more than 2.8% to GDP of agriculture in India
and 31% of the total food production.
However the efficiency of banana supply chain in the country is not
even a patch on the Indian manufacturing supply chain, resulting
into high wastages (30%), high retail to farm gate ratio (1.8) and
high mark up percentage i.e. prices paid by the consumers (300%) –
one of the highest in the world.
Banana-area and production in India
Uttar Pradesh (Plain)
Andaman & Nicobar
Area (‘000 ha)
Production (‘000 t)
Banana are cultivated commercially under tropical and sub-
tropical conditions in all the states of India except in those having
extreme winters such as Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and
In Tamil Nadu bananas are cultivated in about 88,100 ha and the
productivity is very high in Maharashtra (58.58 t/ha) followed by
Tamil Nadu (50 t/ha).
Though, India is the leader in banana production, Indian export of
fresh banana is meager and it was only 280 metric tonnes during
the year 1998.
Banana is an important source of energy and the cheapest source
of nutrients for the bulk of our population.
In terms of nutritional value, the fruits are rich in carbohydrates,
minerals and vitamins.
It provides more balanced food than many other fruit crops.
In terms of energy, bananas are even better compared to potatoes.
Bananas and plantains are recognized as the fourth most important
global food commodity after rice, wheat and milk.
Nutrient composition of banana
Crude Fibre (%)
0.5 – 0.8
0.8 – 1.2
0.2 – 0.3
0.7 – 0.9
Potassium (mg / 100 g)
Phosphorus (mg/100 g)
Calcium (mg/100 g)
Iron (mg/100 g)
0.6 – 0.8
0.020 – 0.025
Thiamin (mg/100 g)
Riboflavin (mg/100 g)
0.01 – 0.5
Niacin (mg/100 g)
Ascorbic acid (mg/100g)
The fruit pulp of banana has rich and easily digestible
carbohydrates apart from many vitamins like riboflavin, niacin
and ascorbic acid and minerals such as calcium, magnesium,
potassium, phosphorus and has several medicinal properties.
It is hence considered as fruit for all ages of people from infants
In certain parts of India, banana powder is used as baby food.
It has several medicinal virtues too.
The fruits, florets and pseudostem are also used for consumption
Its leaves are commonly used for serving food in homes, many
hotels and restaurants.
Bananas can be also processed to purees, powder, flour, chips,
jam, jelly, wine, etc. attractive handicraft items like mats, carry
bags, etc. can be also made from the banana fibre.
Besides, the fibres can be also used for making paper pulp.