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Banana Farming for Enhancing Income and Sustaining Livelihoods

banana

Banana is the most popular fresh fruit all over the world and its name comes from the Arabic word 'banan', which means finger. The scientific name of Banana is Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. But the old scientific names of banana are Musa sapientum and Musa paradisiacal. Bananas are rich source of carbohydrates and potassium. These are the first choice of athletes owing to its high energy potential. It is also an important source of trade and income. To safeguard sustainable banana production and generate wealth for smallholder farmers, high quality planting material is crucial. Banana was first domesticated in the tropical regions of South East Asia. Banana is a nutritious gold mine. Its high Vitamin B6 content helps fight infection and is essential for the synthesis of ‘heme’, the iron containing pigment of hemoglobin. The fruit is also rich in potassium and a great source of fibre too. In recent years, considering the adverse impact of indiscriminate use of chemicals, new trend of organic banana production has been adopted worldwide. A novel name, i.e. "Green Foods" for this has been coined. Buddhist texts of 600 BC for the first time in history mentioned banana as a highly nutritive food. Banana is one of the world’s most important food crops. In India, banana crop accounts for 2.8 per cent of agricultural GDP.

It is an important crop for subsistence of farmers, and ensures year round security for food or income. Banana and Plantains (Musa spp.) are some of the earliest crop plants having been domesticated by humans. Bananas are consumed as ripe fruit, whereas plantains, which remain starchy even when fully ripe, need cooking for palatability and consumption. Irrespective of their commercial status, banana and plantains are referred as ‘Poor man’s apple’. Banana is globally ranked fourth, next to rice, wheat and maize in terms of gross value of production. It is a major staple food crop for millions of people as well as provides income through local and international trade. Among the starchy staple food crops, banana ranks third with respect to the total production. Though cassava and sweet potato are positioned as first and second, banana and plantain have almost equal importance in all the tropical regions of the world. Many cultivars are consumed fresh as dessert fruit, while a great number of culinary varieties are used in hundreds of recipes based on cooking bananas and plantains.

Banana is a very popular fruit due to its low price and high nutritive value. It is consumed both in fresh and cooked form both as ripe and raw fruit. Banana is a rich source of carbohydrate and is rich in vitamins particularly vitamin B. It is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. The fruit is easy to digest, free from fat and cholesterol. Banana powder is used as the first baby food. It helps in reducing the risk of heart diseases when used regularly and is recommended for patients suffering from high blood pressure, arthritis, ulcer, gastroenteritis and kidney disorders. Processed products, such as chips, banana puree, jam, jelly, juice, wine and halwa can be made from the fruit. The tender stem, which bears the inflorescence is extracted by removing the leaf sheaths of the harvested pseudostem and used as vegetable. Plantains or cooking bananas are rich in starch and have a chemical composition similar to that of potato. Banana fibre is used to make items like bags, pots and wall hangers. Rope and good quality paper can be prepared from banana waste. Banana leaves are used as healthy and hygienic eating plates. Banana plants reproduce asexually by shooting suckers from a subterranean stem. The shoots have a vigorous growth and can produce a ready-for-harvest bunch in less than one year. Suckers continue to emerge from a single mat year after year, making banana a perennial crop. Banana is a perennial crop that grows quickly and can be harvested all year round. Bananas are produced in 135 countries and territories across the tropics and subtropics. During 2017-18, the world acreage of banana was 60.2 lac hectares, while the world production 1253.4 lac tons and productivity was 20.8 ton/hectare (FAOTAT, 2018). India is the largest banana producer in the world. During 2017-18, India produced about 304.7 lac tons banana from the acreage of 8.6 lakh hectares. Uttar Pradesh has acreage of about 67.4 thousand hectares under banana cultivation and produces about 30.8 lac tons banana every year.

banana

The Banana variety mainly grown in Uttar Pradesh is Grand Naine (G-9). Several other banana varieties are also recommended as per the state-wise climatic conditions of our country (Table-1). The major areas in Uttar Pradesh where banana is cultivated on a large scale are Sidharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabirnagar, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Faizabad, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Lucknow, Sitapur, Kaushambi, Allahabad. The details of major banana producing districts of Uttar Pradesh are given in table-2. In western Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane farmers are also taking keen interests towards banana cultivation. For promotion and popularization of banana farming, a research project entitled “Production of disease-free banana (Musa sapentium) plants through tissue culture technique for establishment of nursery and distribution of low cost plantlets among farmers” is currently going on at the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology (SVPUA&T), Meerut, Uttar Pradesh under the supervision of Prof. R.S. Sengar. This research project is running with the financial assistance and kind support of Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT, New Delhi and Dr. Shahaj U. Ahmed, Scientist “E”, DBT, New Delhi. By the implementation of this research project, several western Uttar Pradesh farmers have been aware and got benefitted by reading about banana cultivation in the magazines and local newspapers and by personal meetings or through the training and demonstration on the production of disease-free banana plants. It is also experienced that the sugarcane farmers are also exhibiting their interest towards banana cultivation. With the help of the continuation of this research project, several farmers have initiated banana farming at their fields. In near future it could definitely said that more and more western Uttar Pradesh farmers would be able to adopt banana cultivation for enhancing income and sustaining their livelihoods.

Nutritional Value

Bananas are one of the FDA's top twenty fruits. An excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and potassium, they provide fiber, are low in fat, cholesterol-free and low in sodium. A regular sized banana has about 95 calories. Some medications for controlling blood pressure deplete the body's storage of potassium. One banana eaten each day restores the balance of potassium. Recognized as an important part of the diet and to lower the chances of cancer, at least five servings daily of either fruits or vegetables are recommended. A recent study found that eating nine or ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables, combined with three servings of low-fat dairy products, were effective in lowering blood pressure. Apart from these nutritional values, banana has many industrial and traditional uses.

Propagation

The propagation of bananas is done mainly by suckers. Two types of suckers emerge from the banana tuber. Sword sucker and water Sucker. From a commercial point of view, sword suckers are best suited for propagation. The leaves of sword suckers are thin and rose upwards. 0.5-1 meter high and 3-4 month old swords are suitable for planting. Sucker should be taken from such plants, which are vibrant and mature and do not suffer from any kind of disease. Currently, banana is being propagated by using tissue culture techniques such as shoot tip culture. Plants prepared with this method have uniform size and free from any type of contamination. Thus, the tissue culture raised banana plants are considered as disease-free quality planting materials for commercial cultivation.

Climate and Land

Warmer and even climate is good for banana cultivation, banana cultivation is successful in areas with high rainfall, soil-rich loam and mattiar loam soil, so that drainage is considered to be suitable for the pH value of the land up to 6-7.5. It is suitable for farming.

Varieties

Two types of banana are found in the growing species. In the fruit-eating variety, pulp is soft, sweet and starch-free, such as Grand Naine (G-9), Basrai, Dwarf, Green Bark, Salbhog, Alpan, Robusta, Monthan, Nendran and Puvan etc. The varieties rich in starch are thick like Kothaya, Battisa, Monthan and Campirganj. The details of banana varieties grown state-wise are given in table-1.

Table-1: State-wise cultivation of banana varieties

 States

               Varieties Grown

Uttar Pradesh

Grand Naine (G-9), Nendran, Monthan, Robusta, Dwarf Cavendish, Harichhal

Andhra Pradesh

Dwarf Cavendish, Robusta, Rasthali, Amritpant, Thellachakrakeli, Karpoora Poovan, Chakrakeli, Monthan and Yenagu Bontha

Assam

Jahaji (Dwarf Cavendish), Chini Champa, Malbhog, Borjahaji (Robusta), Honda, Manjahaji, Chinia (Manohar), Kanchkol, Bhimkol, Jatikol, Digjowa, Kulpait, Bharat Moni

Bihar

Dwarf Cavendish, Alpon, Chinia , Chini Champa, Malbhog, Muthia, Kothia , Gauria

Gujarat

Dwarf Cavendish, Lacatan, Harichal (Lokhandi), Gandevi Selection, Basrai, Robusta, Grand Naine (G-9), Harichhal, Shrimati

Jharkhand

Basrai, Singapuri

Karnataka

Dwarf Cavendish, Robusta, Rasthali, Poovan, Monthan, Elakkibale

Kerala

Nendran (Plantain), Palayankodan (Poovan), Rasthali, Monthan, Red Banana, Robusta

Madhya Pradesh

Basrai

Maharashtra

Dwarf Cavendish, Basrai, Robusta, Lal Velchi, Safed Velchi, Rajeli, Nendran, Grand Naine (G-9), Shreemanti, Red Banana

Odisha

Dwarf Cavendish, Robusta, Champa, Patkapura (Rasthali)

Tamil Nadu

Robusta, Rasthali, Poovan, Nendran, Red Banana, Ney Poovan, Peyan Monthan, Karpuavalli, Matti, Moris and Hill Banana

West Bengal

Champa, Mortman , Dwarf Cavendish, Giant Governor, Kanthali, Singapuri, Amrut Sagar and Lacatan

Description of Commercial Banana Varieties: The varietal characteristics of commercially grown Banana are given below in table.

Table-2: Important banana varieties and their characteristics

 Variety

                   Characteristics

 Grand Naine

(G-9)

It is the popular international variety. It is a tall statured plant and a heavy yielder with long cylindrical bunch. On an average it produces a bunch weighing 25 kg and may go up to 32-35 kg, with 8-10 hands with 200-220 fruits/bunch. The length of the fruit is 15-21 cm and girth is 12-13 cm.

Robusta

It is normal statured with black brown blotches on the stem, bunches weigh around 20 kg having 8-10 hands/bunch. The length of the fruit is in the range of 15-20 cm and girth is about 12 cm with thick fruit skin.

 Dwarf 

 Cavendish

The plant stature is dwarf. Dark black brown blotches appear all along the stem. Bunches are large with compactly arranged 8-10 hands weighing about 20kg. Length of fruit is about 13-14 cm and girth is about 8-10 cm. Skin is thick and the fruit gradually tapers towards the tip. It is not fit for export.

Red banana

The plant is tall and robust statured. The colour of the fruit, pseudostem, petiole and midrib is purplish red. The bunch weight is around 20-25 kg with 6-7 hands and 80 fruits/bunch. The length of the fruit is around 16-18 cm.

Nendran

There is a considerable diversity in plant stature. Bunch has 5-6 hands weighing about 6-12 kg. Fruits have a distinct neck with thick green skin turning buff yellow on ripening. Fruits remain starchy even on ripening.

 

Preparation of the field

The plowed field should be made 4 to 5 deep and made brown in preparation. In Uttar Pradesh, in the month of May, the field should be prepared, after this, the field is prepared by planting pits in the field.

Preparation of pit for transplanting

After preparing the field, pitches in the lines are made on the basis of varieties such as 1.5 meters long 1.5 meters wide for green bark and 50 meters long 50 centimeters 50 centimeters deep for 50 meters deep for vegetables. In the month, they are dug and put in 15-20 days and left open so that the sunlight gets better, after that 20-25 kg of cow dung fertilizer 50 EC. Chlorpyriphos mixed with 3 ml and 5 liters of water and above soil should be filled in the pit and water should be applied in the pit.

Transplanting of banana plants

Planting of bananas is done by plantations, three-month long sword-grown pitches in which Ghanakand is fully grown, the leaves are planted by 15-30 June. The leaves of these leaves should be cut and planted in ready pit. It is necessary to apply water after transplanting.

Use of manure and fertilizer

According to the fertility of the land, 300 grams of nitrogen per plant requires 100 grams of phosphorus and 300 grams of potash. Half quantity of phosphorus should be given at the time of planting and the remaining half after planting, dividing the entire quantity of nitrogen into 5 parts in August, September, Should be given in October and February and April, the entire quantity of potash should be divided into three parts and given in September, October and April.

Irrigation

Moisture should be maintained in the banana orchard. It is very important to irrigate it after planting. It should be irrigated at the interval of 7 to 10 days in summer and 12 to 15 days in winter from October to February. Moisture is protected by laying puvaal sugarcane leaves or polythene etc. on the plate, the amount of irrigation remains half as well as increase in yield and quality.

Weeding and Hoeing

In order to keep the banana crop field clean, weeding should be done as per the requirement. Plants keep getting air and sunlight etc. after weeding well, due to which the crop runs well and the fruits are good.

Mulching

Sufficient moisture should be maintained in the banana field, 8 to 10 cm thick layer of poultry or sugarcane leaf should be spread in the banana basin, this has to reduce the irrigation. At the same time, the yield also increases and flowers and fruits come together.

De-leafing and De-suckering

Within two months of planting bananas, new leaves come out from the side. These leaves should be cut from time to time and after two months of planting, a 25 cm high platform of 30 cm diameter should be made from the soil, so that the plant should be made. Removal of unwanted suckers is a critical operation in banana for reducing internal competition with the main plant. Small suckers are removed on regular basis upto 7-8 months.

Propping

Due to heavy weight of bunch the plant goes out of balance and the bearing plant may lodge and production and quality are adversely affected. Therefore they should be propped with the help of two bamboos forming a triangle by placing them against the stems on leaning side. This also helps in uniform development of bunch.

Inter-cropping

Root system of banana is superficial and gets easily damaged by cultivation. Therefore, use of intercrop is not desirable. However short duration crops (45-60 days) like mungbean, cowpea, daincha are to be considered as green manuring crops. Leguminous crops, beetroot, elephant foot yam, ginger, turmeric and sun hemp may be grown as an inter-crop during the first 3-4 months. However, growing of cucurbitaceous vegetables should be avoided as they are bearer of viruses. In coastal regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, banana is grown in coconut and areca nut plantations with tall cultivars.

Control of diseases

In banana crop, many diseases are caused by fungi and viruses such as foliage spots or leaf spots, bunch apex or bunchi top, Anthracnose and Tanagalan herterate, etc. For control, chemicals containing copper such as copper oxychlorite should be sprayed 0.3% or Monocrotophos. Sprinkle with 1.25 ml per liter of water.

Insect-Pest control

Bananas contain many pests such as banana leaf beetil (banana beetil), stem beetles etc. For control, Methyl O-dimetan 25 EC should be sprayed in 1.25 ml per liter of water. 25 grams of pesticide should be used per plant.

Harvesting of bunches

Banana is a climacteric fruit crop. The crop gets ready for harvesting within 12-15 months of planting. Banana harvesting season is from September to April. Care should be taken while harvesting banana bunches that the bunch should be collected in well padded trays/baskets prior to bring them to the collection sites. The harvested bunches should be kept away from direct sunlight because it hastens the ripening and softening process of fruit. Banana dwarf varieties take 11-14 months for harvesting while the tall varieties are ready to harvest within the 14-16 months of crop planting. After harvesting, only leaves are removed and the remaining plants are retained for ratoon crop. This practice improves better food supply to the plants and helps in saving water requirements. It is suggested that for obtaining good quality banana fruits 7-8 berries are to be retained in the bunch. First ratoon crop would be ready by 8-10 month from the harvesting of the main crop and second ratoon by 8-9 months after the second crop. Thus over a period of 28-30 months, it is possible to harvest three crops i.e. one main crop and two ratoon crop. The yield of banana depends on a number of factors such as variety, plant density, management practices etc.

It is well known that banana is an important cash crop of our country. India secures the first rank in the world in banana production. Conventionally banana is propagated through vegetative means i.e. stem suckers. The availability of disease-free quality planting material is the first requisite for generating an optimum banana yield. Nowadays, banana propagation through tissue culture raised plantlets is on high demand and the farmers are growing banana by using tissue culture plantlets due to quality and yield of the crop. The demand of banana is raising day by day, thatswhy; the fulfillment of farmer’s requirements of quality planting materials should be the first priority of scientists. Keeping these facts in mind, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), New Delhi initiated a project in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. R.S. Sengar at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh on banana tissue culture for establishing nursery for promotion and popularization of banana farming in western Uttar Pradesh. The findings of this research project are outstanding and it is also revealed that the implementation of this project is being helpful for western Uttar Pradesh farmers. They are awaring about banana farming and getting benefits from it.

Authors:

S. Sengar, Manoj K. Sharma and Reshu Chaudhary

Department of Agricultural Biotechnology,

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh


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