Preamble

Banana is considered as poor man’s apple and is available round the year unlike many other seasonal fruits. The plant is a source of minerals, food, beverages, sugars, medicines, flavorings and non-edible products like silage, fragrance, rope, cordage, shelter, clothing, smoking material and has numerous ceremonial and religious uses. Banana is a staple crop grown throughout the tropics and subtropics and contributes 37% of the total fruit production in the world. It provides a source of food, nutrition and income for millions of rural and urban households. More than 400 million people rely on banana farming in Latin America, which accounts for 60% of global banana sales. Its year-round availability, affordability, varietal range, taste, nutritive and medicinal value make it a favourite fruit among all classes of people. Hi-tech cultivation of the crop is an economically viable enterprise with increased productivity, improvement in produce quality and premium prices for the produce with exciting prospects for international export. International banana trade is worth more than US$45 billion with a huge impact on the economy of many countries. Banana exports by different countries totalled US$11.8 billion which has gone up by an average of 30.0%. Banana consumption worldwide is forecast to register a cumulative annual growth rate of 1.21% for the period of 2019–2024. The Asia-Pacific region leads the market with a 61% share of global consumption. In India, banana as an enterprise generates around $7 billion / annum and provides livelihood to millions of farmers. India contributes 27% of the global banana production with a total production of 29.3 million tons in an area of 8.03 lakh hectares. Banana alone contributes 2.8% to the Agricultural GDP of India. At present, India shares 0.3% of the total global export of banana estimated at about Rs. 388 crores with an export volume of 1,11,000 metric tonnes.


However, over the years, many limiting factors like germplasm erosion, tough breeding, non-availability of quality planting material, abiotic factors such as low temperature, soil salinity and drought, poor soil health, destruction of arable land due to urbanization, and low soil fertility resulting in high fertilizer use have plagued banana farmers. Global warming and climate change induced vagaries of nature have further aggravated this situation. Various pests and diseases particularly tropical race 4 of Fusarium wilt disease, pesticide deposition and run off, soil erosion, etc. are hampering banana industry. Post-harvest handling is a systemic problem for banana farmers and more than 20% loss occurs due to poor handling and management. Besides, farmers are facing great losses due to seasonal glut, erratic price fluctuation, lack of knowledge and facilities on processing and marketing of banana, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to address these issues for achieving socially and environmentally sustainable banana production and improving the livelihoods of banana farmers.

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