Banana, one of the earliest crops cultivated by man, remains to be one of the most
important fruit crops, especially of the tropics. The term ‘banana’ was introduced from
the Guinea Coast of West Africa by the Portuguese, while the term ‘plantain’ (for
cooking bananas) was derived from ‘plantano’ of the Spaniards (Purseglove, 1975). But
generally the term “banana” includes all edible varieties eaten as ripe fruits or as cooked
food. The earliest reference to banana is found in the Hindu classics. A picturesque
description of the banana plantation around the green bower of “Valmiki Maharshi” is
given in the “Ramayana”. The generic name of banana –Musa was derived from the
Arabic word ‘Mouxh”. Presumably bananas were known to the Arabs from very early
times and it appears in ‘Holy Khoran’ as the ‘tree of paradise” – which is equivalent to
the “tree of knowledge” of Christian tradition. Accordingly, the specific name was given
as “paradisiacal”. In Plenius’s Historia Naluralis”, banana is mentioned as the major item
of food of Indian sages. The great historian Disraeli mentioned banana as the most
delicious thing in the world.
Bananas were called “figa” in Europe in the 10th century A.D. and it is still so in
the West Indies (Purseglave, 1975). In India, banana is commonly called as “Kela” in the
northern states. In South India it is called ‘Arati’ or ‘Anati’ in Andhra Pradesh. ‘Bale’ in
Karnataka. ‘Vazhai’ in Tamil Nadu and ‘Vazha’ in Kerala. In the Sanskrit literature it is
often referred to as ‘Kadali’ or ‘Rambha’.
The importance of dessert and cooking bananas can hardly be exaggerated. They
play a major role as a complementary food in the local diets. The food value of bananas
has been appreciated for a very long time and continuous efforts are being made to
broaden and extend the form in which bananas are utilized. One or the other part of the
plant is used on all auspicious occasions such as wedding, festivals, ceremonies of all
sorts and even for worship in India. Banana provides a more balanced diet than many
other fruits. On unit area basis, banana produces about fifteen times more energy than
wheat. The annual per capita consumption of banana is about 60 kg in Brazil and Costa
Rica while it is 50 kg in India. In some of the African countries it, goes up to 275 kg,
rising to the status of a staple food and largely replaces the consumption of cereals.
Banana is one of the rare fruits which satisfy the definition of a good food i.e., one
that contains an ample proportion of nutritive constituents which are easily digested and
absorbed, while available at reasonable cost. It is one of the most easily assimilated fruits.
From the nutritional point of view, banana has a calorific value ranging from 67 to 137
calories per 100 g and is closely comparable with potatoes but digested more easily. It is
relatively cheap. The average composition of banana fruit is as follows according to
Gopalan et al. (1980).
There are traces of potassium, copper, iodine, manganese, magnesium, sodium, zinc and
cobalt as well.
Besides the use of fruits for dessert and culinary purposes, ripe fruits of some
cultivars like ‘Nendran’ (French Plantain) are used as a favourite breakfast item after
steaming in South India and in Latin America. ‘Nendran’ is also preferred for preparing
sweets, halwa and chips. Chips making has already developed into a small scale industry
in the Kerala state. There is great potential for this to be developed further, exploiting the
internal and fast increasing external demand. Sweets made of slices of mature fruit
steamed and dipped in spiced jaggery emalsion or sugar syrup is delicious and keep for
long. Chips made by frying mature fruit slices in edible oil after dipping in brine are a
good snack. Banana figs, which are sundried slices of the fruit with fig like consistency,
are commonly prepared in many countries. The fully ripened ‘Nendran’ fruits are sun
dried, preserved and used in Kerala.
The ‘Kunnan’ and ‘Nendran’ varieties are ideally suited for preparing baby foods.
The possibility of utilizing other high yielding varieties of banana for the purpose needs
to be explored. Banana flour made into and diluted with milk is a good food for babies,
invalids and patients suffering from gastritis. Banana ash is highly alkaline and therefore
can check acidity in stomach and bowel, heart burn and colic. Regular use of sweet and
aonatic fruits of ‘Anbalakaiali’ – a classic variety grown in South India is said to cure
even bad intestinal ulcers. Ayurvedic preparations are made from ripe banana fruits,
central core and male bud.
Banana fruits and other parts of the plant are useful in one way or other. The
central core of the pseudostem and the male bud (heart) are commonly utilized as
vegetables in South India and also in the African and South – East Asian countries. They
form a good subsidiary food material when cooked and mixed with salt and masala.
Besides providing a food containing easily digestible starch, they are also said to
counteract the ill effects of stones, hair etc. consumed accidentally with food. Hence they
form the best food for patients suffering from intestinal ulcer. Aqueous extract of the
central core of the stem when consumed regularly can check and cure liver and kidney
ailments. The physicians of naturopathy effectively utilize this extract against many such
diseases. In the African countries, the extract is taken by mothers to improve lactation.
Starch is manufactured from the pseudostem. About 8 per cent starch can be extracted
from it. Rhizomes of small suckers, particularly of ‘Nendran’ variety is consumed in parts
of Kerala after slicing in culinary preparations. With the growing awareness on the
medicinal properties of banana rhizome and plant parts, all our efforts must be made to
popularize these efficient food materials which are easily available in plenty, free of cost
or at nominal cost. Undoubtedly, this will help our masses a lot from the nutritional,
health and economic points of view.
Chopped banana rhizome, pseudostem, green leaves, peduncle, poor quality fruits
and fruit peelings have great potential as cattle feed. As a source of cheap and readily
available roughage, these items are of immense utility in the high concentrate ration of
livestock. Chopped rhizomes and pseudostem are fed to cattle after steaming, particularly
for those troubled by kidney worms.
The juice from the pseudostem can be used to prepare dyes as it possess the
property of a permanent stain. The pseudostem of banana can be used for manufacturing
paperboards. Banana leaves are very popular in South India and Africa as prestigious
dinner plates, wrapping material and even at temporary umbrellas. All the plant parts can
be used as efficient mulching materials. The dried leaf sheaths and petioles are used for
making crude ropes, tying materials, screens, circular pads for carrying head loads and as
a thatching material.
Banana yields good fibre too, species such as Musa textiles are well known for
their good quality fibre. Cultivated species of banana as well’ have a high potential in this
regard. Fibre, paper, rough cordages etc. have got great commercial possibilities as
Merits as crop
As a crop, banana has various factors of added significance to us. To the Keralite,
the term ‘fruits’ is rather a synonym to ‘banana’ and is liked by one and all, available
round the year at a reasonable cost. This semi-perennial fruit vegetable food crop can
grow well in a variety of situations under a wide range of soil and agro-climatic
conditions. Adapted varieties are available for cultivation under open and shaded
conditions as well as for rainfed and irrigate planting. It can well be fitted in crop
rotations, multiple cropping, intercropping, relay cropping and even in companion
cropping. Since the crop combines well with our major perennial crops like coconut,
arecanut, rubber (early stage) etc. the key role of the crop in the economy of the State
needs no emphasis. Banana is often grown as a shade cum nurse crop in coffee, tea,
cocoa, pepper and rubber plantations, especially in the early stage.
Homestead farming is unique to the State of Kerala and banana constitutes an
integral part of these homesteads. Adaptation of a large number of varieties of banana to
ratooning is of great practical utility both in the homestead system of cultivation and in
commercial farming. Multitude of varieties of choice to the grower and consumer are
available. To an extent, the plant and its products form a part of the Indian culture and
A. TROPICAL AND SUB-TROPICAL FRUITS
Banana : Banana (Musa paradisiacal L.) occupies over 1,64,000 hectares, mainly in
Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Assam, Andhra
Pradesh and Bihar. Though some inferior types of banana are found growing as far north
as the Himalayas, its commercial importance is mainly limited to the more tropical
conditions, such as those prevailing in central, southern and north-eastern India. It is a
moisture and heat-loving plant and cannot tolerate frost or arid conditions.
VARIETIES : Cultivated varieties are broadly divided into two groups : table and
culinary. Among the former are ‘Poovan’ in Madras (also known as ‘Karpura
Chakkare-keli’ in Andhra Pradesh); ‘Mortaman’, ‘Champa’ and ‘Amrit Sagar’ in West
Bengal; ‘Basrai’, ‘Safed Velchi’, Lal Velchi’ and ‘Rajeli’ in Maharashtra; ‘Champa’ and
‘Mortaman’ in Assam and Orissa; and ‘Rastali’, ‘Sirumalai’, ‘Chakkarekeli’, ‘Ney
Poorvan’, ’Kadali’ and ‘Pacha Nadan’ in southern India. ‘Basrai’, which is known under
different names, viz., ‘Mauritius’, ‘Vamankeli’, ‘Cavendish’, ‘Governor’, ‘Harichal’, is
also grown in central and southern India. Recently, the ‘Robusta’ variety is gaining
popularity in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The ‘Virupakshi’ variety (Hill banana) is the
most predominant variety in the Palni Hlls of Tamil Nadu. Among the culinary varieties,
Nendran bananas, ‘Monthan’, ‘Myndoli’ and ‘Pacha Montha Bathis’ are the leading
commercial varieties in southern India, ‘Gros Michel’ is a recent introduction into
southern India; it is suitable for cultivation only under garden-land conditions and is
generally fastidious in its cultural requirements. It is not, therefore, in favour with the
PROPAGATION AND PLANTING
Propagation is by suckers or off-shoots which spring at the base of a banana-tree from
underground rhizomes. Vigorous suck, with stout base, tapering towards the top and
possessing narrow leaves, are selected for planting. Each sucker should have a piece of
underground stem with a few roots attached to it.
Banana suckers can be planted throughout the year in southern India, except during
summer, whereas in the rest of the country, the rainy season is preferred. They are planted
in small pits, each just enough to accommodate the base of a sucker. The planting
distance varies from 2 m x 2 m in the case of dwarf varieties to 4 m x 4 m in the case of
very tall varieties.
MANURING : An application of 20 to 25 kg of farm yard manure, together with about 5
kg of wood-ashes per plant is given at planting time. In southern India, ammonium
sulphate is applied one month, five months and nine months after planting at 20 kg per ha
each time. In western India, a little over 2 kg of oilcake per stool is applied during the
first three months after planting. A complete fertilizer mixture may be applied to supply
100 to 200 kg of N, 100 to 200 kg of P2O5 and 200 to 400 kg of K2O per ha. A
green-manure crop is also considered beneficial. Trials at the Indian Institute of
Horticultural Research have shown that for the ‘Robusta’ variety, a fertilizer mixture
comprising 180 g of N + 108 g of P2O5 + 225 g of K2O per plant is ideal.
AFTER CARE : The removal of suckers, dry leaves and pseudostems, from which the
fruits have been harvested, constitute the main after care. Daughter suckers should be
removed promptly until the mother-plant flowers, when one daughter sucker may be
allowed to take its place. The removal of dry leaves and useless pseudostems requires to
be done in time. After all the fruits are formed, the pendant portion of the remaining
inflorescence along with the heart should be removed.
The propping of plants with bamboo poles, especially those which have thrown
out bunches, is necessary wherever damage by wind is apprehended. Where the wind
damage is recurring, dwarf varieties should be preferred.
IRRIGATION : The banana-plants require very heavy irrigation. Irrigation is given in
most places once in seven to ten days. Stagnation of water in the soil is not very congenial
to the proper growth of banana and, hence, the drainage of soil is also essential.
HARVESTING : Early varieties commence flowering in southern and western India
about seven months after planting, and the fruits take about three months more to ripen.
In the Andhra Pradesh delta areas, the fruits are ready for harvesting about seven to eight
months after planting. The first crop of the ‘Poovan’ variety matures in 12 to 14 months
and the second in 21 to 24 months after planting. In other parts of India, the first crop is
usually gathered a year after planting, whereas the succeeding crop may be ready in six to
ten months thereafter.
The bunch is harvested just before it attains the ripening stage. When the fruits
have reached the full size, they become plump, and mature with a distinct change in
colour. For long transport, the bunch may be harvested somewhat earlier. The bunch is
cut retaining about 15 cm of the stem above the first hand. The yield varies considerably
from 26,000 to 55,000 kg per ha.
CURING AND MARKETING: The ripening of banana is done in several ways, eg.
Exposing the bunches to the sun, placing them over a hearth, wrapping them up in green
leaves and piling them in a heap, storing them in closed god owns or smoking them in
various ways. One of the common ways is to heap the fruits in a room and cover them
with leaves, after which fire is lit in a corner and the room is closed and made as air-tight
as possible. Ripening takes place usually in 30 to 48 hours. In a cool store, the bunches
ripen well at about 15° to 20°C. The application of Vaseline, a layer of clay or coal-tar to
the cut-ends of the stalks prevents rotting during ripening and storage.
Wrapping up the fruits and packing them in crates help to reduce the damage during
POST HARVEST HANDLING, STORAGE, PROCESING AND BYPRODUCT
Banana is an easily perishable fruit. During peak seasons of production. There is
glut in the market and fanners do not get remunerative price. In this homesteads, banana
is cultivated mainly for the consumption of the family as vegetable/fruit. The problem of
post harvest handling, storage and transport crisis mainly in commercial cultivation. It is'
noted generally that running transporting, damage occurs to the banana bunches. Further,
the bulky nature of the bunch, often with loosely packed fingers and sort nature of the,
little, create problems in hall. As such efficient and economic methods lacking green
fruits as well as fruits which have started ripening and ripe fruits are to be revised so that
damage is avoided/reduced to the barest minimum during handling and transport. Banana
to the Keralite, as elsewhere is a vegetable as well as a fruit appall t from hang used for
the preparation of various products. For the vegetables types it, will be desirable if the
greenness could be prolonged, without being rip:'l1ed to the extent possible whereas in
the case of dessert types Mol, shelf life after ripening will be advantageous. In the case of
home consumption, instead of ripening a bunch at a stretch as usual. a slow ripening, SJ
that the entire bunch is ripened] a period of time is on ripening and keeping quality with
these objectives in mind will be regarding. Utilizing banana in the form of different
products in small and commercial scales need to be stressed with special reference to that
fact that banana is expected generally as a subsidiary food crop. However to make banana
a commercial crop to the possible extent investigations on post harvest handling of fresh
fruits, ripe fruits, storage and the preparation of the various products now in vogues and
the development of new products have to be seriously considered. Nend J a71 chips and
other products and flour are of special mention at present in the Kerala context. Further
the effective utilization of other items such as the male bud} central core (Pindi),
rhizome, pseudostem, leaves etc. in a manner conducive of our Socio-economic
conditions, linking with our agro system has to be emphasized. The male bud central core
(of the inflorescence) and the rhizome of young suckers are being used as vegetable. The
use of the central core in Naturopathy is well known. The fiber extracted from the banana
pseudostem can be utilized in a variety of ways and its potential, appears to be enormous.
The banana leaf, generally used as a precious plate, Especially on auspicious occasions, is
another valuable part, which is also liable to damage during collection and transport. Any
means and Plethacs to reduce its breakage and damage and to improve keeping quality is
worthy of consideration.
In the context of the above points, the studies S0 far conducted on banana with reference
to post harvest handling, processing and byproduct utilization in Kerala will provide a
bas," for the correct orientation of future lines of work. The work done could be for the
sake of convenience categorized.
Handling of fresh fruits
It is a common experience that the banana fruits obtained from the market is
seldom free from damage. To a farmer with a bumber crop the problem of its handling
and transport to the market in its original form is a difficult task, often expensive. The
ways and means for easy and cheap methods of stacking and transport needs no special
mention. Whatever means of transport is adopted, it is most important that the fruit
should be gently handled and kept as cool as possible. Head pods made of wads of banana
trash are commonly used in Jamaica sponge rubber head and shoulder pads are used in
Central America. Stacking points, carts Lorries and railway trucks are lined with a
generous blanket of banana trash; layers of bunches are interspersed with trash. There are,
broadly, four means of preparation of bunches for long distance transport, Na’1lely; the
bunches being shipped naked; the use of plastic covering; the enclosure of the bunch in a
paper or straw parcel; and the packing of the fruit in boxes or cases. In India the produce
is mostly carried by rail and little or no attempt is made to control the temperature of
carriage. Refrigerated transport methods may be desira ble for the safe transport of the
fruits to long distances.
Philip and Aravindakshan (1979) conducted studies on the post harvest
application of certain growth regulating substances like 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D, IAA and NAA on
fruit quality of the banana cultivar 'Palayankodan'. The study revealed significant
variation among the treatments with regard to the quality indices like loss in weight on
ripening, TSS acidity, TSS/acid ratio, total sugars, reducing sugars and sugar lacid ratio.
Significant variations with regard to the above quality indices among the fruits of the first
four hands and the succeeding four hands of the same bunch were also noticed. Treat-
ments with 100 ppm IAA, 40 ppm and 60 ppm 2, 40 were found to increase acidity,
ascorbic acid and sugar content significantly over the control. TSS was significantly
higher in treatments with 40 ppm 2,4,5- T, 100 ppm NAA and 100 ppm IAA, whereas the
treatments with 2,4, 5- Tat 60 ppm, NAA at 50 ppm, 2,4-0 at 20 ppm and IAA at 100
ppm were found to be effective in reducing the acidity significantly over the control. IAA
at 100 ppm and 2,4-0 at 60 ppm increased sugar/acid ratio significantly. The TSS, acid
ratio was found to be influenced significantly by the growth regulator treatments.
The effect of pre and post harvest treatments on storage and quality of banana cv.
Nendran was studied by Aravindakshan (1981). Pre harvest spraying of Ethrel 4CO ppm,
2,4-D 10 ppm and NAA 50 ppm proponed the harvesting of banana by 20 days and this
resulted in better quality fruits.
The study revealed that ripe fruits for immediate use can be obtained within 3
days of harvest by smoke treatment for 24 hours and then storing in open. 'The quality of
the fruits were found to be better under smoke treatment arid open storage as compared to
fruits in polythene bags with or without K MNO2, in appearance of the ripened fruits was
best in polythene bag storage. The storage life of the fruits could be prolonged by 10 days
by storing under polythene + K MnO4 at ordinary room temperature. In polythene bags,
six days longer shelf life could be obtained. Anthracol at 0.05 per cent and 0.1% Bavistin
500 ppm and 1000 ppm, Thiride 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent were equally effective in
reducing anthracnose incidence in banana fruits stored in polythene bags and in open, the
maximum reduction being resulted by Bavistin 1000 ppm. Pre harvest spray or post
harvest dipping of fungicides reduced the incidence of black spot caused by
Gloeosporium musarum. Smoke treated fruits were found to have high incidence of
anthracnose and fruits stored in polythene bags + K MnO4 were found to have the least
incidence of the disease.
The effect of Waxol (fungicidal wax emulsion) on the shelf life of Nendran
banana fruits was studied and the results revealed that the storage life could be increased
by treating the fruits with 4% Waxol.
A comparative evaluation of different methods of ripening was conducted at the
Department of Processing Technology, College of Horticul ture, Vellanikkara, Among the
various local methods tried, banana packed in cartons with paddy straw started ripening
early. It was found that irres pective of treatments, the percentage acidity after ripening
remained more or less the same.
For the culinary varieties, it will be of great advantage if the fresh green stage of
the fruit can be prolonged by delaying the ripening. Studies in this aspect are yet to be
At a very rough computation, nearly half the bananas of the world are eaten raw
and ripe, nearly half arc eaten as a cooked vegetable and the remainder (an almost
negligibly small proportion of the whole) are used for processing into various products.
A survey was undertaken (Prema and Chellammal, 1986) in Trivan drum district to find
out how the banana fruit is being utilized by the farm families. The survey revealed that
26 per cent of the families use Nendran fruits and 32 per cent use other varieties of
banana, 3 days in a week. ,Out of the 200 families, 78 per cent of the families use