How useful is the banana?

          Banana is a popular fruit and an important part of our diet today. It originally belongs to South-East Asia and the Indonesian region where it used to grow wild in the forests. Over the years, proper selection and cultivation of different varieties yielded the ‘edible’ banana. By the beginning of the Christian era it had already become a popular fruit in the Asian and Mediterranean countries. When the Spaniards settled in South America, they planted it there and being a tropical plant, it grew well. 

          The banana tree grows round the year in hot and moist climate. Bananas are picked when they are still green and left to ripen while being transported.

          Banana is a wholesome food. It is made up of water (75%), sugar (20%), proteins (2%), fats (1.5%), cellulose (1%), and other substances (1%). It also contains vitamins such as A, C, B1 and B2. It is quite a nourishing and easily digestible fruit. Half a kilo bananas contains 460 Calories and are more nourishing than any other fruit. A type of flour is also made of dried banana. In American and Asian kitchens bananas are used uncooked in salads and with ice creams. In Africa people thatch roofs of their huts with the banana leaves. 

          The plant yields a kind of fibre which is used to make ropes.

          There are over 200 varieties of banana belonging to about 30 species. They are never grown from the seed but are produced by planting of rhizome pieces. The new plants grow up amazingly fast from the buds. Its height varies between 5 to 30 ft. Each plant has about 10 large leaves and bears a single bunch of fruit. The banana leaves are about 6 to 7 ft. long and 1 to 2 ft. wide.

          Today, the United States is the greatest buyer of bananas, consuming more than 60 million bunches every year.