Will this great food become Extinct?
is under severe threat from virulent pests and diseases.
Read: Just how far are bananas from extinction?
· The biggest producer of bananas is India, which produces16 million tonnes, more bananas than are exported in world trade.
· Nearly 100 million tonnes of banana and plantain are produced globally every year by about 120 countries in subtropical and tropical zones.
· The export trade concerns around only about 12.5 million tonnes of banana.
· Roughly equal amounts are produced from each of the regions of Asia, Latin America with the Caribbean, and Africa.
· There are more than 500 varieties of banana in the world. The Cavendish banana is the one that is exported and found on supermarket shelves. It represents just one variety.
· Plantain is one kind of cooking banana. It represents a group of bananas that are popular in parts of South Asia, West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
· The highest rate of consumption is in East Africa. Ugandans produce 10.5 million tonnes, around 450 kg per year per person. The word for bananas “matooke” also means “food”.
· 99.5% of banana-eaters in the world are eating varieties of banana that have been selected by farmers and haven’t changed in centuries.
· The fruit is one of the most easily digested foods available, and is particularly useful in feeding infants, the frail or ailing (and sportsmen in need of quick energy), providing a good source of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, B6 and C.
· Black Sigatoka causes yield declines of up to 50%. Commercial plantations follow a very intensive regime of fungicide spraying – up to 40 times a season -- to combat black Sigatoka.
· Almost all cultivated bananas are difficult to breed because they are seedless and sterile. They also take up to 18 months to fruit, which prolongs breeding efforts compared to annual crops.
· Improved varieties produced by classical breeding have started to become available in the past 10 years. They have not yet been planted on a large scale.
· Cuba is the first country to use improved varieties of banana on a significant scale. They have planted more than 11,000 ha. As a result, farmers have experienced yield increases and made annual savings of US$3 million on spraying.
· Biotechnology can speed up research dramatically. Classical plant breeding can use biotechnologies to see which varieties are worth pursuing. And genetic modification is one biotechnology that could be used to breed improved varieties of banana. In cases where varieties are totally sterile, it is the only available solution. Genetically manipulated bananas would be environmentally safe because the banana is sterile and modified genes would not be able to escape from the transformed crop.
Bouwman's, Banana eaters of the Northwest wanted you to know this.