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 inNew Guinea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guineasuggests that banana cultivation there goes back to at least 5000B.C.E., and possibly to 8000B.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 millenniumB.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 inMadagascararound that time (Zeller 2005). The earliest evidence of banana cultivation in Africa before these recent discoveries dates to no earlier than late sixth centuryC.E.(Lejju et al. 2006). These were possibly spread there by Arab merchants.
The banana is mentioned in written history as far back as 600B.C.E.in Buddhist texts, and Alexander the Great discovered the taste of the banana in the valleys of India in 327B.C.E.
Fruits of wild-type bananas have numerous large, hard seeds.
While the original bananas contained rather large seeds, triploid (and thus seedless) cultivars have been selected for human consumption. These are propagated asexuallyfrom 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 maincultivars.
In 2003,Indialed 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 coffeedominated 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.
Banana output in 2005
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 asUganda, 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.
Make a face mask
Who needs Botox when you have bananas? That’s right: You can use a banana as an all-natural face mask that moisturizes your skin and leaves it looking and feeling softer. Mash up a medium-sized ripe banana into a smooth paste, then gently apply it to your face and neck. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water. Another popular mask recipe calls for ¼ cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 medium banana. Homemade not cutting it.
Eat a frozen “banana-sicle”
As a summer treat for friends and family, peel and cut four ripe bananas in half (across the middle). Stick a wooden ice-cream stick into the flat end of each piece. Place them all on a piece of wax paper, and then put it in the freezer. A few hours later, serve them up as simply yummy frozen banana-sicles. If you want to go all-out, quickly dip your frozen bananas in 6 ounces melted butterscotch or chocolate morsels (chopped nuts or shredded coconut are optional), then refreeze.
Polish silverware and leather shoes
It may sound a bit like a lark, but using a banana peel is actually a great way to put the shine back into your silverware and leather shoes. First, remove any of the leftover stringy material from the inside of the peel, then just start rubbing the inside of the peel on your shoes or silver. When you’re done, buff up the object with a paper towel or soft cloth. You might even want to use this technique to restore your leather furniture. Test it on a small section first before you take on the whole chair.
Tenderize a roast
Banana leaves are commonly used in many Asian countries to wrap meat as it’s cooking to make it more tender. Some folks in these areas say the banana itself also has this ability. So the next time you fear the roast you’re cooking will turn tough on you, try softening it up by adding a ripe, peeled banana to the pan.
Brighten up houseplants
Are the leaves on your houseplants looking dingy or dusty? Don’t bother misting them with water; that just spreads the dirt around. Rather, wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel. It’ll remove all the gunk on the surface and replace it with a lustrous shine.
Are aphids attacking your rosebushes or other plants? Bury dried or cut-up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the aphid-prone plants, and soon the little suckers will pack up and leave. Don’t use whole peels or the bananas themselves, though; they tend to be viewed as tasty treats by raccoons, squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and other animals, who will just dig them up.
Use as fertilizer or mulch
Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium, an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars of roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants.
Warts are stubborn and gross, so needless to say nobody wants one. A natural way you can go about removing one is by using a banana peel. Cut a piece of ripe banana peel to cover the affected area using the inside and keep it there overnight by using some medical tape. In the morning you should notice some improvement and you can repeat the process nightly until it’s gone!
Attract butterflies and birds
Bring more butterflies and various bird species to your backyard by putting out overripe bananas (as well as other fruits such as mangos, oranges, and papayas) on a raised platform. Punch a few holes in the bananas to make the fruit more accessible to the butterflies. Some enthusiasts swear by adding a drop of Gatorade to further mush things up. The fruit is also likely to attract more bees and wasps as well, so make sure that the platform is well above head level and not centrally located. Moreover, you’ll probably want to clear it off before sunset, to discourage visits from raccoons and other nocturnal creatures.
Assist with first aid
Banana peels have anti-inflammatory properties, which means they are great when it comes to bug bites, minor scrapes, poison ivy, and sunburn. All you have to do is put the banana peel on the affected area and press it like you would a cool compress. You can repeat this process until you feel some relief.
TheAmerican Heart Association(AHA) encourage people to lower their intake of salt, or sodium, and increase their consumption of foods that containpotassium. 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 2007studysuggested that eating bananas might help prevent wheezing in children withasthma. One reason for this could be the antioxidantand potassium content of bananas. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Laboratoryinvestigationshave suggested that lectin, a protein that occurs in bananas, may help prevent leukemiacells 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,researchersnoted 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 thevitaminC 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 reviewfound 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.
TheAmerican Diabetes Associationrecommend eating bananas and other fruit as they contain fiber. Theynotethat eating fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.
The author of a 2018reviewconcluded that eating a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetesand 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 theBRAT 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.