National Banana Festival: Sector can boost rural economy, farmers’ income

The Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action in partnership with Kalliyoor Grama Panchayat is organizing the National Banana Festival at Kalliyoor in Thiruvananthapuram from February 17 to 21. The festival aims to showcase the wide range of bananas in the country. It is expected to witness a huge turnout of farmers, businessmen, academicians and researchers from all over the country.  The objectives of the festival are: creating awareness on the local biodiversity conservation; promoting entrepreneurship; promoting utilization of under-utilized parts of banana peels, leaves, pseudo stem, stalk and inflorescence for food and non-food products and promoting organic farming, precision farming, efficient input management.

Banana is one of the oldest fruits known to mankind and is one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world. Availability, affordability, varietal range, taste, nutritive and medicinal value make it the favourite fruit among all classes of people. Our country stands first in banana production in the world. In fact, bananas we have today are the products of thousands of years of careful selection for specific traits by our farmers. This precious diversity has to be protected in the contest of dominating market-driven  mono cultures.

Bananas have been grown in India from Vedic times. Banana is referred to as Kalpataru  (The divine tree of life or wish fulfilling tree) due to its multifaceted uses in food and medicine and the fruit is well referred and reflected in our culture. Banana is offered to Gods in all auspicious occasions.

Bananas and plantains are grown in more than 130 countries across the world and the fourth most important staple crop, critical for food security in many tropical countries. Banana is popular on global scale not only for its nutritional value but also because of its economic importance especially to smallholding farmers in the developing countries.

India ranks first in global banana production with 18 per cent of the total production and accounts for 36.6 per cent of the total fruit production in the country.   Banana and plantain are  grown in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Bihar, eastern UP, West Bengal and Northeastern states.

The banana industry provides employment to thousands of people. There is no part of the banana that is not used. Banana fibber is one of the strongest fibres used to make fabrics, handicrafts and fashion goods. The commercial value of the fibre has increased over the years. The banana leaf plate is the answer to plastics and Styrofoam.

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