Banana is one of the most important crops worldwide. They are the fifth largest agricultural commodity in world trade after cereals, sugar, coffee, and cocoa. Banana cultivation is a profit-making farming practice worldwide. Major banana-producing countries are India, Brazil, China, and Ecuador.
And the major importing countries are the USA, Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom. India exports bananas mainly to UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries. In India, the major banana-growing states are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, A.P., Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, etc.
The major advantage of this fruit is its availability round the year. India leads the world in banana production with an annual output of about 16.820 mt. The scientific name of banana is Musa sp. In addition, banana is a nutritious food and have medicinal values.
Banana has different commercial applications. Mostly, banana is popular as fresh fruit. In addition, the banana wafer as snacks and banana fibers have different usage in the industry. In conclusion, we can say banana cultivation is a profitable business.
How to Start Banana Farming Business
First of all, you must craft a business plan for banana cultivation. Alike any business, farming also attracts input cost and appraisal production values.
Variety plays an important role in the banana farming business. Therefore, choose the variety according to your agroclimatic condition.
According to the amount of land you have, calculate the cost of production. And arrange the finance for the same.
In addition, you will need to arrange the irrigation facility.
Arrange the inputs like fertilizer and pesticides. In addition, you must adopt proper plant protection systems.
Plan for the marketing. Where you will sell the banana. However, export is the most profitable option.
Health Benefits of Banana
There are several benefits of having bananas. Some of them are listed below:
- Bananas are extremely healthy and delicious.
- In addition, they contain several essential nutrients and have benefits for digestion, heart health, and weight loss.
- Each banana contains only about 105 calories and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas contain very little protein and almost no fat.
- Bananas contain nutrients that can help moderate blood sugar levels after meals. They may also reduce appetite by slowing stomach emptying.
- In addition, bananas are a good dietary source of potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for heart health.
- Bananas are high in several antioxidants. It may help to reduce damage from free radicals and lower the risk of some diseases.
- Unripe bananas are a great source of resistant starch. Therefore, it may help improve insulin sensitivity.
Best Varieties of Banana
Robusta, Dwarf Cavendish, Grand Naine, Rasthali, Vayal Vazhai, Poovan, Nendran, Red Banana, Karpooravalli, Co.1, Matti, Sannachenkadali, Udayam, and Neypoovan are popular varieties in banana. However, the export market prefers the Cavendish groups.
For culinary purposes, you can grow Monthan, Vayal Vazhai, Ash Monthan, and Chakkia varieties. Nendran is a dual-purpose variety used for dessert and culinary.
The popular varieties of bananas suitable for hilly areas are Virupakshi, Sirumalai, and Namarai. However, in hill areas, you can grow Red Banana, Manoranjitham (Santhana Vazhai), and Ladan.
Agro Climatic Condition For Banana Cultivation
Banana is essentially a tropical plant. And it requires a warm humid climate. However, you can grow bananas in areas with temperatures ranging from 15ºC – 35ºC. In addition, banana prefers a relative humidity of 75-85%. It prefers tropical humid lowlands. You can grow banana from sea level to an elevation of 2000m. above m.s.l.. In
However, you can grow this crop in climates ranging from humid tropical to dry mild subtropics through the selection of appropriate varieties. Chilling injury occurs at a temperature below 12ºC. The high-velocity winds exceed 80 km /hr. damages the crop.
Four months of monsoon (June to September) with an average 650-750 mm. rainfall are most important for the vigorous vegetative growth of banana. Successful cultivation of bananas requires deep, well-drained, friable loamy soil with adequate organic matter.
Suitable Soil For Banana Cultivation
The fertility of the soil is very important for successful cultivation, as the banana is a heavy feeder. Banana is one of the few fruits, which has a restricted root zone.
Hence, depth and drainage are the two most important considerations in selecting the soil for the banana. However, bananas can grow from the poorest to the richest type of soil with varying success.
You must test the soil before banana cultivation. In addition, make sure the soil has good drainage, adequate fertility, and moisture. Because, banana prefers a deep, rich loamy, and silty clay loam soil with pH between 6-7.5. Therefore, you must avoid soil of low-lying areas, very sandy & heavy black cotton with ill drainage.
Basic Steps of Banana Farming
Prior to planting bananas, grow the green manuring crop like Daincha, cowpea plow insists in the field. You must plow the selected field 4-6 times. And allow weathering for two weeks. You can use Rotovator or harrow to break the clod and bring the soil to a fine tilt. During soil preparation, you can add a basal dose of FYM (about 50 tonnes/ha. before the last harrowing) thoroughly mixed into the soil.
Bananas are perennials. It produces succeeding generations of crops. The first cycle after planting is called the plant crop. The ratoon is the sucker (also called the follower) succeeding the harvested plant. You can call the second cycle the first ratoon crop. The third cycle is the second ratoon crop, and so on.
Spacing & Planting
You can plant bananas throughout the year except in severe winter and during heavy rains when the soil remains very wet. However, plant population depends on cultivars, topography, and soil fertility. Trim the roots and the decayed portion of the corm, cut the pseudostem leaving 20 cm from the corm and grade the suckers to size.
Irrigate immediately after planting. Give life irrigation after 4 days. Subsequently, you must irrigate the field once a week for garden land bananas and once in 10 – 15 days for wetlands. Irrigate the fields copiously after every manure application. Use drip irrigation @ 5-10 liters/plant/day from planting to 4th month, 10-15 liters/plant/day from 5th to shooting, and 15 liters/plant/day from shooting to till 15 days prior to harvest.
The nutrient requirement of bananas is very high. Therefore, it requires about 150-200g N, 100-150g P, and 200-300g K per plant per year. It takes up more nutrients per unit area than almost any other fruit crop. Relatively, nitrogen deficiency affects the growth of the plant severely. Then the older leaves show signs of chlorosis.
Regular weeding is important during the first four months. Normally you can use spading. Therefore, four spading a year are effective in controlling weeds. However, you can adopt integrated weed management by including cover crops, judicious use of herbicides, intercropping, and hand weeding. These will contribute to increasing production. Also, you can adopt double cropping of cowpea. It is equally effective in suppressing weed growth.
Easily you can raise intercropping in the banana plantation at the early stages of growth. Vegetable and flower crops like radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, chili, brinjal, lady’s finger, gourds, marigold, and tuberose are successful in intercropping. Mixed cropping with coconut and cassava is also a common practice.
Some of the common pest and diseases are
Pseudostem borer: Stem borers cause much damage to the plant. The grubs of this pest bore into pseudostem. As a result, the leaves turn yellow, wither and untimely the plant dies.
Rootstock Weevil: This pest harms bananas throughout the year. The grubs bore into rhizomes. In addition, the adults hide in leaf sheaths and suckers.
Panama wilt: This disease is most serious in poorly drained soil and in the land where you plant bananas year after year. Affected plants show yellowing of leaves which later hang around the pseudostem and wither.
Bunchy top: This is a viral disease. Infected plants show short and narrow leaves together at the top of the pseudostem to form a bunch.
Harvesting & Yield in Banana Farming
The dwarf cultivars of bananas are ready for harvest within 11 to 14 months after planting. While tall cultivars take about 14 to 18 months to mature. Therefore, the average yield of bananas is 40 to 50 t/ha. You can extend the shelf life of banana fruits and their quality by 3 days or more with the use of ethylene absorbents like vermiculite blocks.
After harvesting, you can store bananas at a relative humidity of 85 to 95% for about three weeks. At low temperatures, the banana fruits become black. Furthermore, you can prolong the storage life by keeping fruits in a relatively high concentration of CO2 and a low concentration of O2.
Economic Importance of Banana Farming
Bananas have great importance to small-scale farmers in the developing countries of the tropics and sub-tropics. Therefore, banana is popular for its low price and high nutritive value. It is consumed in fresh or cooked form both as ripe and raw fruit. One of the value-added products is banana powder.
It is gaining popularity day by day. In addition, processed products, such as chips, banana puree, jam, jelly, juice, wine, and halwa are also very popular. Banana fiber 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. However, One must consider seriously the exporting of bananas.
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