In terms of production, bananas are the worldâ€™s 4th most important food crop, mostly grown and consumed in the tropical and subtropical zones. The crop is grown in more than 120 countries, with an annual world production of around 104 million tons; around a third each is produced in the African, Asia-Pacific, and Latin American and Caribbean regions.
About 87% of all the bananas grown worldwide is produced by small-scale farmers for local consumption as a food security crop, and for local markets than for international trade. They provide a staple food for millions of people, particularly in Africa.
Approximately 13% of worldwide banana production is destined for the export market. The banana fruit is extremely important as an export commodity especially in Latin America and Caribbean, which contribute over 83% of the total banana in the international market. The banana export industry is also the backbone of the economies of many Caribbean countries, and the crop plays a vital role in the social and political fabrics of the islands.
In Africa, only five countries namely, CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire, Cameroon, Somalia, Ghana, and Cape Verde, export approximately 427,000 tons of banana and plantain. There are more than 500 banana varieties in the world, but the Cavendish is the most exported banana cultivar.
The bananaâ€™s ability to produce fruits all year round makes it an important food security crop and cash crop in the tropics.
Bananas and plantains supply more than 25% of the carbohydrate requirements for over 70 million people in Africa. East Africa is the largest banana-producing and consuming region in Africa with Uganda being the worldâ€™s second leading producer after India, with a total production of about 10.5 million tons. In some African countries such as Uganda the daily consumption of banana may exceed 1.6 kilogram per person, which is the highest in the world.
Nutritionally, fresh bananas contain 35% carbohydrates, 6-7% fiber, 1-2% protein and fat, and major elements such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Bananas are also used to manufacture beer, wine, and other products and form an important part of the cultural life of many people.
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