The banana is a perennial plant. People around the world consume 15 million tons of dessert bananas per year.
The banana plants grow well in tropical countries that lie within 30 degrees on either side of the equator. In these regions, the average temperature is 80°F (27°C) and the yearly rainfall is between 78 and 98 inches. The banana plant requires moist soil that drains well.
United States and Britain import bananas from Latin America. In Britain, bananas are also imported from West Africa.
Bananas do not grow from a seed, but from a bulb or rhizome. It replaces itself. The flower appears in the sixth or seventh month.
It takes from 9 to 12 months to harvest a banana bunch after the planting. There is no growing season for bananas and so they are available throughout the year.
After growing for three months, the bananas are harvested while still green and sent to he packing centers for export. Since the buyers in the United States and the UK prefer unbruised bananas, the packaging centers set high standards for inspection and sorting. The bananas that do not meet the standards are sold cheaply to the locals.
After packing the selected bananas in specially designed cartons, they are taken to ports and loaded onto refrigerated ships called reefers. In the ships, the bananas are handled with care to prevent damage. To maintain quality during the voyage humidity, ventilation and temperature conditions are carefully monitored. The fruits are held at 13.3°C to increase their shelf life during transport.
Founded in Hawaii in 1851, Dole Food Company, Inc., is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
Here is an interesting video clip from DOLE on “Harvesting and Packing Bananas.”
- How bananas are grown (bananalink.org.uk)
- Banana production in the Caribbean (en.wikipedia.org)