On our Herbaria section of myschoollibrary, today, learners will be exposed to facts pertaining to the plant ” Banana”. I will be sharing my knowledge of the plant and research from reliable sources.
History of cultivation
The domestication of bananas took place in southeastern Asia. Many species of wild bananas still occur in New Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea suggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000 B.C.E., and possibly to 8000 B.C.E.(APSF 2007). This would make the New Guinean highlands a potential place where bananas were first domesticated. It is likely that other species of wild bananas were later also domesticated elsewhere in southeastern Asia.
Some recent discoveries of banana phytoliths in Cameroon, dating to the first millennium B.C.E. (de Langhe and de Maret), have triggered an as yet unresolved debate about the antiquity of banana cultivation in Africa. There is linguistic evidence that bananas were already known in Madagascar around that time (Zeller 2005). The earliest evidence of banana cultivation in Africa before these recent discoveries dates to no earlier than late sixth century C.E. (Lejju et al. 2006). These were possibly spread there by Arab merchants.
The banana is mentioned in written history as far back as 600 B.C.E. in Buddhist texts, and Alexander the Great discovered the taste of the banana in the valleys of India in 327 B.C.E.
While the original bananas contained rather large seeds, triploid (and thus seedless) cultivars have been selected for human consumption. These are propagated asexually from offshoots of the plant. This involves removing and transplanting part of the underground stem (called a corm). Usually this is done by carefully removing a sucker (a vertical shoot that develops from the base of the banana pseudostem) with some roots intact. However, small sympodial corms, representing not yet elongated suckers, are easier to transplant and can be left out of the ground for up to two weeks; they require minimal care and can be boxed together for shipment. In some countries, bananas are commercially propagated by means of tissue culture. This method is preferred since it ensures disease-free planting material. When using vegetative parts such as suckers for propagation, there is a risk of transmitting diseases (especially the devastating Panama disease).
While in no danger of outright extinction, the most common edible banana cultivar “Cavendish” (extremely popular in Europe and the Americas) could become unviable for large-scale cultivation in the next 10-20 years. Its predecessor, the cultivar “Gros Michel,” which was discovered in the 1820s, has already suffered this fate. Like almost all bananas, it lacks genetic diversity, which makes it vulnerable to diseases, which threaten both commercial cultivation and the small-scale subsistence farming (NS 2006; Montpellier 2003).
Even though it is no longer viable for large scale cultivation, Gros Michel is not extinct and is still grown in areas where Panama Disease is not found. Likewise, Cavendish is in no danger of extinction, but it may leave the shelves of the supermarkets for good if diseases make it impossible to supply the global market. It is unclear if any existing cultivar can replace Cavendish on a scale needed to fill current demand, so various hybridization and genetic engineering programs are working on creating a disease-resistant, mass-market banana.
Australia is relatively free of plant diseases and therefore prohibits imports. When Cyclone Larry wiped out Australia’s domestic banana crop in 2006, bananas became relatively expensive, due to low supply domestically, and laws prohibiting banana imports.
Production And Trade
Bananas are grown in at least 107 countries (FAO 2004). Bananas are classified either as dessert bananas (meaning they are yellow and fully ripe when eaten) or as green cooking bananas. Almost all export bananas are of the dessert types; however, only about 10-15 percent of all production is for export, with the United States and the European Union being the dominant buyers.
Bananas and plantains constitute a major staple food crop for millions of people in developing countries. In most tropical countries green (unripe) bananas used for cooking represent the main cultivars.
In 2003, India led the world in banana production, representing approximately 23 percent of the worldwide crop, most of which was for domestic consumption. The four leading banana exporting countries were Ecuador, Costa Rica, Philippines, and Colombia, which accounted for about two-thirds of the world’s exports, each exporting more than one million tons. Ecuador alone provided more than 30 percent of global banana exports, according to FAO statistics.
The vast majority of producers are small-scale farmers growing the crop either for home consumption or for local markets. Because bananas and plantains will produce fruit year-round, they provide an extremely valuable source of food during the hunger season (that period of time when all the food from the previous harvest has been consumed, and the next harvest is still some time away). It is for these reasons that bananas and plantains are of major importance to food security.
Bananas are among the most widely consumed foods in the world. Most banana farmers receive a low unit price for their produce as supermarkets buy enormous quantities and receive a discount for that business. Competition among supermarkets has led to reduced margins in recent years, which in turn has led to lower prices for growers. Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole and Fyffes grow their own bananas in Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. Banana plantations are capital intensive and demand high expertise so the majority of independent growers are large and wealthy landowners of these countries. This has led to bananas being available as a “fair trade” item in some countries.
The banana has an extensive trade history beginning with the founding of the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) at the end of the nineteenth century. For much of the 20th century, bananas and coffee dominated the export economies of Central America. In the 1930s, bananas and coffee made up as much as 75 percent of the region’s exports. As late as 1960, the two crops accounted for 67 percent of the exports from the region. Though the two were grown in similar regions, they tended not to be distributed together. The United Fruit Company based its business almost entirely on the banana trade, as the coffee trade proved too difficult for it to control. The term “banana republic” has been broadly applied to most countries in Central America, but from a strict economic perspective only Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama were actual “banana republics,” countries with economies dominated by the banana trade.
The United States has minimal banana production. About 14,000 tons of bananas were grown in Hawaii in 2001 (Sugano et al. 2003).
Most bananas grown worldwide are used for local consumption. In the tropics, bananas, especially cooking bananas, represent a major source of food, as well as a major source of income for smallholder farmers. It is in the East African highlands that bananas reach their greatest importance as a staple food crop. In countries such as Uganda, Burundo, and Ruanda ,the per capita consumption has been estimated at 450 kilograms per year, the highest in the world. Ugandans use the same word “matooke” to describe both banana and food.
In the past, the banana was a highly sustainable crop with a long plantation life and stable yields year round. However with the arrival of the Black Sigatoka fungus, banana production in eastern Africa has fallen by over 40 percent. For example, during the 1970s, Uganda produced 15 to 20 metric tons of bananas per hectare. Today, production has fallen to only six tons per hectare.
The situation has started to improve as new disease resistant cultivars have been developed such as the FHIA-17 (known in Uganda as the Kabana 3). These new cultivars taste different from the traditionally grown banana, which has slowed their acceptance by local farmers. However, by adding mulch and animal manure to the soil around the base of the banana plant, these new cultivars have substantially increased yields in the areas where they have been tried.
Uses of Banana
Banana is popularly known for its sweet succulent edible nature. However, research has proven that banana is not just limited to consumption alone. They can serve other purposes. These amazing uses of banana would peradventure shock you.
These uses of banana were sourced from Reader’s Digest.
Health Benefits of Consuming Banana
The following sections explain some of the possible health benefits of bananas.
The nutrition information comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Data Central database.
Daily requirements are from the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are for adults, but they are approximate, as the values vary according to a person’s age and sex.
The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to lower their intake of salt, or sodium, and increase their consumption of foods that contain potassium. Potassium can help manage blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.
A medium banana provides almost 9% of a person’s daily potassium needs, according to the nutritional information from the above sources.
A 2007 study suggested that eating bananas might help prevent wheezing in children with asthma. One reason for this could be the antioxidant and potassium content of bananas. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Laboratory investigations have suggested that lectin, a protein that occurs in bananas, may help prevent leukemia cells from growing.
Lectin acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body remove molecules known as free radicals. If too many free radicals build up, cell damage can occur, potentially leading to cancer.
In 2004, researchers noted that children who consumed bananas, orange juice, or both appeared to have a lower risk of developing leukemia.
The study authors suggested that this could be due to the vitamin C content, as this, too, has antioxidant properties.
Bananas contain fiber, potassium, foliate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health.
A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet. Those who consumed more fiber also had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholestrol.
The American Diabetes Association recommend eating bananas and other fruit as they contain fiber. They note that eating fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.
The author of a 2018 review concluded that eating a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and may lower blood sugar in those who already have the disease.
Bananas contain water and fiber, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health. One medium banana provides approximately 10% of a person’s fiber needs for a day.
Bananas are also part of an approach known as the BRAT diet, which some doctors recommend for treating diarrhea . BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
Diarrhea can lead to a loss of water and electrolytes, such as potassium. Bananas can replace these nutrients.
High fiber foods can trigger bloating, gas, and stomach cramps in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a 2012 study. However, bananas may improve symptoms, the authors concluded.
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recommend banana as a snack food in their diet plan.
Preserving memory and boosting mood
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that may help preserve memory, boost a person’s ability to learn and remember things, and regulate mood.
Bananas are rich in the mineral potassium. Potassium helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells.
Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium stays in the body.
One medium sized banana contains 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium.
It is best to try to get potassium from dietary sources, such as bananas. Otherwise, potassium supplements are available to purchase online.
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