Friday, October 19, 2007

India is global Banana destination and Profitable Use of by-products –by women from Vaishali

India with rich bio-diversity of banana and plantain is the largest producer and consumer with estimated production of 16 million tonnes of banana annually. India's domestic production alone exceeds the entire world trade, with 19 per cent share of the total production of banana in the world.

The contribution of banana to GDP of agriculture in India is 2.8 per cent. It also provides livelihood security to millions of people in primary producing areas, trade and processing. The global production of banana is of the order of 71 million tonnes, cultivated in about 4.5 million hectare, mostly by small and marginal farmers; it has an added dimension because it provides a source of livelihood and income to the farmers in the developing countries, of which India holds a major share.

Banana is also an important food item ranking fourth in consumption after rice, wheat and milk. The emerging trend world-wide and also in our country is indicative of a paradigm shift in dietary needs of the people with rise in income, which demands more horticultural produce and thus the need for more emphasis on banana. It is also one of the main fruit in international trade. In terms of volume it stands first among exported fruits, and second after citrus fruits in terms of value.

There is consistent growth in banana export from India. In terms of volume 80,99,617 kg. plantains were exported in 2001-02, which increased to 86,55,519 kg. in next year and 10,876,781 kg. in 2003-04.

Major exports in 2003-04 were to Middle East countries topped by UAE, besides Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. Other major importers of this fruit from India are Nepal, USA, Iran, Maldives, UK., Canada and Bangladesh.

The growing potential for plantain and banana based products in the domestic and world markets has presented the banana a golden opportunity.

And to encash upon this opportunity, the banana growing states have to concentrate upon the procurement, infrastructure setting, production and marketing of the fruit. The government has decided to harness the potential of Indian Banana industry and to place Indian Banana in the global trade scenario.

Focus Areas

There is increasing concern for supplying virus free tissue planting material for quality production of banana in view of a large number of tissue culture units that have come up.

The use of hi-tech interventions like micro-irrigation, mulching, high density planting has been responsible for achieving high productivity levels in different parts of India, which would be promoted in potential banana growing belts.

The available technology and infrastructure would be pooled for promoting precision farming for achieving increased productivity per unit with judicious utilisation of available resources like land, water, light, fertilizer and time.

National Horticulture Mission has been launched recently to promote the development of horticulture including banana. The Mission envisages backward and forward linkages.

For value addition, government is providing incentives to entrepreneurs for setting up of horticulture processing industries and food parks in potential areas to encourage linkages between the markets for the horticulture produce and processing industry through various government schemes.

Profitable Use of by-products – Vaishali Example

The trunk of banana trees has also been put to fruitful use by women in Vaishali district of Bihar. It is the story of an initiative by a group of women who came up with the idea of making household items from the fiber extracted from banana trunks and approached the director of the Hariharpur based Banana Research Institute.

Convinced by the idea, the Institute not only procured the machinery for extraction of banana fiber but also trained 500 women to extract the fiber. Both farmers and farm women are happy. The farmer get Rs.5 per piece of trunk which was earlier dumped, by selling it to women engaged in extraction of fiber.

This fiber is then sold at a procurement centre of the Institute at a price varying from Rs.60-100 per kg. depending upon the quality. From this yarn, women make various handicraft items like wall hangings, flower baskets, bags, chappals and earn a good living.