Sunday, December 16, 2018


India’s banana growing area 15.5%, but contribution huge, states Singh
Tuesday, 20 February, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Although India accounts for just 15.5 per cent in area, its contribution to the world’s banana production is 25.58 per cent. Thus, it has emerged as one of the most important fruit crops and is easily available to the common man. This was stated by Radha Mohan Singh, agriculture and farmers’ welfare minister, Government of India, at the 2018 essay of the National Banana Festival, which took place in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, recently.

“Bananas and plantains are major staple food crops for millions of people in tropical developing countries. They have a history of over 4,000 years, dating back to 2020 BC,” he added, stating that bananas were native to India and were widely grown in the tropical, sub-tropical, and coastal region of the country.

“In recent years, the recognition of the importance of bananas and plantains, as household food, nutritional security and social security, has grown in many parts of the world. In India, there has been a significant increase in terms of area, production, and productivity in the last two decades,” Singh said.

“Today, bananas are cultivated in over 130 countries across the world. According to 2013 statistics by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), five million hectare yield 103.63 million tonne of bananas and plantains,” he added.

“India is the largest producer of bananas in the world, with 29.7 million tonne (MT) from an area of 0.88 million hectare, with a productivity of 37MT/ha,” the minister stated.

“It is predicted that with the ever-increasing demand, 60MT of banana will be needed to meet the domestic demand in 2050,” he added.

“There is also a considerable scope for the export of bananas and its products, which further enhances the demand,” Singh said.

“Bananas and plantains are continuously showing an impressive growth worldwide. Its year-round availability, affordability, taste, nutritional and medicinal value makes it the favourite fruit among every section of the society with good export potential,” he added.

“World banana production is concentrated in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America because of the climatic conditions,” the minister said.

“The production and productivity of bananas have considerably increased with the expansion of area due to interventions under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), which promotes the adoption of high-density planting, use of tissue culture plants and other interventions in post-harvest management (PHM) infrastructure,” he added.

“So far, 11,809 pack houses and 34.92 lakh MT of cold storage capacity have been created in the last three-and-a-half years. Owing to the growing awareness of bananas for their nutrition, high economic returns and export potential, the area under banana cultivation has increased,” Singh said.

“Over the last three-and-a-half years, banana-producing farmers have benefitted from MIDH scheme initiated by the Modi government,” he added.

“Due to the urbanisation and erosion of wild bananas in their natural habitat, there is a need to conserve the available genetic diversity,” Singh said.

“Musa, a wild species, and its allied species form an important source for resistant genes for biotic and abiotic stresses. Biotic and abiotic stresses are the main constraints which reduce the productivity considerably,” he informed.

“Production constraints also vary from region to region. However, many problems are similar in nature. This complexity of the problem calls for basic, strategic, and adaptive research to maximise the productivity,” Singh added.

“Banana and plantain breeding has its inherent complex problems, and recent biotechnology tools/approaches help in achieving the projected results, and the real impact can be expected in the near future,” he said.

“With a production target of 60MT in 2050, the major production constraints, like the increasing costs of inputs such as fertiliers, irrigation and management of insect pests and diseases like TR4 are being done to maximise the production,” the minister added.

“New initiatives are being taken to give a fillip to such areas as genetic engineering, molecular breeding, organic farming, integrated pest and disease management, physiological, bio-chemical and genetic basis for biotic and abiotic stress management, adoption of post-harvest technology, use of ripening chambers and value addition from waste to wealth,” he said.

“I am sure that the deliberations made in the conference will form the base for strengthening research and opening up new opportunities to fulfill its mandate in banana research and address the future challenges for higher growth and development, so that doubling of farmers’ incomes could be achieved,” Singh said.
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