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India No.1: The homeland of banana produces an incredible variety of the fruit

author Aarthi Ramachandran
11 Apr 2023 | 03:46 PM


India No.1: The homeland of banana produces an incredible variety of the fruit

author Aarthi Ramachandran
11 Apr 2023 | 03:46 PM

If there is one fruit that is most grown and eaten year-round in India, it is the humble banana. India’s festivals, feasts and religious rituals are incomplete without the banana.

The banana plant is actually a giant herb, in fact, the biggest herb. It is part of the plant order called the Zingiberales that includes spices like ginger and turmeric. Before humans began cultivating it, bananas grew wildly in the region stretching from India to Myanmar.

Great diversity

Being the home of the fruit, even today India produces the greatest variety ranging from the cavendish and robusta varieties that you find most commonly in the markets to poovan, nendran, rasthali, red banana and yelakki. More than 670 types of bananas, cultivated and wild, grow in the country.

While mangoes get all the attention, India produces and consumes bananas more. India produces a fourth of all the bananas grown in the world. Yes, that is right. India is literally the Top Banana! It grew close to 35 million tonnes in 2022, against a global production of about 125-130 million tonnes.


Bananas are easily available at every street corner. Besides being eaten as a fruit, they are used extensively in cooking. Think of the wide varieties of desserts such as jams, jellies, halwas, savouries ranging from chips and fried snacks to other food preparations in which parts of the banana fruit, flower and stem are used.

India’s top banana growing states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, which together account for more than 65% of the output.

Seeking exports

According to Dan Koeppel who wrote the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, the West’s first taste of banana was thanks to Alexander the Great, who brought them back with him in 327 BC while returning from his conquests.

India maybe the largest producer, but when it comes to exports, it is an insignificant player. The US, EU and Japan are the world’s biggest importers of bananas. And they are supplied by Latin American and Caribbean countries such as Ecuador, Honduras Costa Rica and Guatemala.

India has much catching-up to do in this area given its large production as well as the endless love for it.

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