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Bananas are not only rich with healthy nutrients best known as a source of potassium, magnesium vitamin C folate, and Choline, they are also a good source of electrolytes that help the body recover after exercise. The nutritional content of bananas change as they ripen, starting off with more resistant starch when green and becoming more sugar content as they ripen made up of glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
Where Bananas are Grown
Bananas are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. Musa species are native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia. They were first grown as an agricultural crop in Papua New Guinea. Banana plantations were started in the Atlantic Islands, Brazil, and western Africa by the Portugese in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Bananas are grown year round in tropical regions
Bananas are the most traded fruit in the world. Bananas are an essential source of revenue and food security for many nations. The vast majority of the banana industry remains within the countries that produce them.
The environmental impact of banana production differs dramatically depending on whether they are grown on small farms, or large commercial plantations and whether they are for domestic consumption or export. There are major differences depending on where they are grown and how they are regulated.
Demand for bananas has grown in non-producing regions of North America and Europe. To meet demand, banana farmers have planted more acres, improved irrigation, and substantially increased fertilizer application.
Conventional banana production process involves covering banana bunches with polyethylene bags which also contribute to plastic pollution.
Bananas play a considerable role in the income and food security of many producer nations and are essential for fighting malnutrition. Bananas can provide up to 25% of daily calorie intake in some countries and are an important global food source for millions of people, especially durig seasons when food is short.
Bananas farming is labor intensive. The power of large companies on international markets has led to injustices which include: the suppression of collective bargaining, low wages, poor working conditions, and market manipulation. Working conditions and wages vary.widely depending on the region and regulation.
The restriction on organized labor has led to unsuitable working conditions, long hours, and low wages in many countries of Latin America. Drug cartels have also found ways to influence banana growers in some regions.
Ecuador, Colombia and Peru still have small-scale banana farmers exporting along with large scale commercial plantations thanks to organic and Fairtrade certifications. Small scale farmers in Ecuador sometimes sell to large producers when they are over stretched.
The Caribbean has a mix of small and medium-scale banana producers. The Dominican Republic produces 60% of the domestic bananas organically and has doubled production.
The banana industry is an essential part of the livelihoods of small-growers of the eastern Caribbean islands such as Dominica. Dominica banana exports have fallen from 50% to 1% of world production with the number of farmers dropping from 27K to just a few hundred exporting from St Lucia due to competition, trade policies and storms that have intensified due to climate change
Several African countries have increased banana production mostly for their domestic market. There companies that support exports from Africa to Europe under Fair Trade agreements. The wages for workers are set by the industry as a whole and often do not provide enough for sufficient living standards.
Bananas are an inexpensive, nutritious fruit with many benefits to health and local economies. Large-scale banana production can also have negative social and environmental impacts. It is best to buy organic as local as possible.
How can we make bananas more sustainable?
Banana Nutrition Facts Infographic
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Alergies and asthma