Banana: Postharvest Situationer  


Banana is the 4rth largest produced fruit crop of the world. It is also the fourth largest produced commodity by the Philippines next to paddy rice, coconuts, and indigenous pigmeat respectively.


The banana plant is often erroneously referred to as a “tree”, it is actually an herb with succulent, very juicy stem – a cylinder of leaf petiole-sheaths, reaching a height of 20-25 ft. and arising from a fleshy rhizome or corm.


The plant needs 10-15 months of frost-free conditions to produce a flower stalk. All but the hardiest varieties stop growing when the temperature drops below 53°F. Growth of the plant begins to slow down at about 80°F and stop entirely when the temperature reaches 100°F.


Bananas grow best in full sun, however, high temperatures and bright sunlight will also scorch leaves and fruit. Freezing temperatures as well will kill the foliage. In most areas bananas require wind protection for best appearance and maximum yield. They are also susceptible to being blown over. Bananas, especially dwarf varieties, make good container specimens if given careful attention. The plant will also need periodic repotting as the old plant dies back and new plants develop. (, 2007)





Some horticulturists suspect that the banana was the earth’s first fruit. It has been in cultivation since the time of recorded history. (, undated)


Banana was first mentioned in Buddhist texts 600 years BC. Alexander the Great was first to discover the taste of the banana in Indian Valleys around 327 BC. China had an organized banana plantation in the year 200 AD. Banana was brought back to Palestine by Islamic conquerors in 650 AD. And finally, Arabic merchants spread the banana all-over Africa. In 1502, the Portuguese started the first banana plantation in the Caribbean and in Central America . (, undated)


According to Spanish history, Friar Tomas de Berlanga brought the first banana root stocks and planted them in the rich soil of the Caribbean in 1516. In the 1800s, sailors who traveled to the Caribbean brought home a few stems with them. Bananas were officially introduced to the Americans at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.


In India, bananas were called “Fruit of the Wise Men”. According to Indian legend, wise men meditated under the shady, green leaves of the banana plant. Don’t you wish you had a banana plant in your backyard? (, 2004)


Importance of the Crop


Banana is now one of the most popular of all fruits. Although it is viewed as only a dessert or an addition to breakfast cereal in most developed countries, it is actually a very important agricultural product. It is the fourth most valuable food after rice, wheat and milk. Banana and plantain (which is a type of banana) are staple foods that represent major dietary sources of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. (


Bananas come in a variety of size and color, most cultivars are yellow when ripe while some are red or purplish. Ripe banana fruit is eaten raw or cooked. Unripe or “green” bananas are used in cooking and are the staple starch of many tropical populations. The commercial dessert cultivars are non-seasonal crop hence, are available fresh year-round.


The flower of the banana plant (a.k.a. banana blossom or banana heart) is used in SE Asian, Bengali and Kerala ( India ) cuisines. The tender core of the banana plant’s trunk is also used in Burmese dishes, Bengali and Kerala cookings. The juice extract prepared from the tender core is used to treat kidney stones. Banana fried with butter is a popular dessert in Malaysia , Singapore and Indonesia . Banana chips are a snack produced from dehydrated or fried banana. Banana fritters can be served with ice cream as well. Bananas are also eaten deep fried, baked in their skin in a split bamboo, steamed in glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf, or used in making jams. The leaves of the banana are large, flexible and waterproof; they are used as umbrellas and to wrap food for cooking. In India , juice extracted from the corm is used as a home remedy for the treatment of jaundice. In other places, honey is mixed with mashed banana fruit and used for the same purpose.


The banana plant also has long been used as a source of fiber for high quality textiles. Banana fiber is used in the production of banana paper. (, 2006)


Nutrient Composition


The banana is nourishing, does not contain fat, and can be eaten at every hour of the day because of its digestive properties. The banana holds 23% of hydrocarbonate for 0.2% of fat. It has 0% cholesterol and a 100g banana has as low calories as a 100g of yoghurt with fruit.


The banana is full of proteins and the sugar provided gives a lot of energy best for those engage in sports requiring endurance. Moreover, it contains selenium, magnesium, iron and lots of vitamins and is recommended for salt-free diets because of its low sodium chloridium contents.


Banana, raw Nutritional value per 100 g

Energy 90 kcal   370 kJ


22.84 g



- Sugars 12.23 g




- Dietary fiber 2.6 g





0.33 g




1.09 g



Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.031 mg


Calcium 5 mg


Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.073 mg


Iron 0.26 mg


Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.665 mg


Magnesium 27 mg


Pantothenic Acid (B5) 0.334 mg


Phosphorus 22 mg


Vitamin B6 0.367 mg


Potassium 358 mg


Folate (Vit. B9) 20 ug


Zinc 0.15 mg


Vitamin C 8.7 mg





Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.

Source: USDA Nutrient database





Bananas constitute 73% of consumer fruit intake. They are an important food item for Filipinos, a source of income for local farmers and a foreign exchange earner for the country. They are the leading Filipino fruit crop in terms of area, volume and value of production. The average annual land yield of the Philippines is 9.4 ton/ha. while big plantations produce about 40 ton/ha. (Espino, et al, 1999) The Philippines ranked fifth among the top producing countries of banana (Fig.1).


 Fig.1. Average Volume of Production of Top Producing Countries (‘000 tons),1996-2005

The existing agro-climatic conditions of the Philippines greatly favor cultivation of this crop. Cultivation practices could be easily adapted to small farm conditions. It is not seasonal and has a continuous cropping system through the ratooing process. This means that it provides a regular source of income for small farmers throughout the year. Fig. 2 shows the average area harvested of top banana cultivating countries (1996-2005).


Fig.2. Average Area Harvested of Top Cultivating Countries (‘000 has.), 1996-2005

Small Philippine farms with areas less than 2 hectares have land yield of 3-10 MT/ha. and the products are just for domestic consumption while large plantation of more than 20 hectares yield more than 20 MT/ha. and the products are exported to other countries (, 2002). It is noticeable in the following figure (Fig.3) that the top producing countries also consume more of this commodity except for USA which is the top importing country of banana (Fig.5).


Fig. 3. Average Banana Consumption of Top Consuming Countries (‘000 has.), 1996-2005

The Philippines contributed with almost 10% of the world supply in years 1996-2005 (Fig.4). Two-thirds of the bananas exported are grown in Mindanao Island . The country is also the main world exporter of banana chips and the demand is increasing. Chips are exported to 30 countries with US and EU being the major importers.



Fig. 4. Average Volume of Exports of Top Exporting Countries (‘000 tons), 1996-2005  

The latest processed products of banana to enter the market is banana wine. It has been a very lucrative business in the Malawi area and elsewhere in Africa and in some parts of Asia and Latin America . In Tanzania , banana bear is further distilled into a liquor called ‘gongo’ which has high demand however, the government declared it illegal as it is perceived to contain poisonous ingredients.  

Case studies initiated by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) were conducted in 9 countries namely: Malawi , Tanzania , Cameroon , Nigeria , Nicaragua , Costa Rica , Philippines , Malaysia and India.


India exhibited the widest range of banana products. This includes banana paper, clothes, slippers, bags, baby food, puree, juice, wine, chips, banana halva, bajii, figs, etc. Brazil also brought a lot of interesting products including pasta made from banana flour. In most of these countries, banana chips surfaced as the most marketable product. Mr. Max Reynes, a food technologist from the Centre de cooperation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement (CIRAD), France , advised that for chips to penetrate into the export market, the packaging as well as the nutritional quality must be improved especially if you want to export to European countries where there are rigid nutritional requirements.  

The top importing countries of banana products is shown in Fig.5. As mentioned earlier, USA is the top importing country along with Germany , Belgium-Luxembourg, and Japan . They are not among the major producers of this commodity.  


Fig.5. Average Volume of Imports of Top Importing Countries (‘000 tons), 1996-2005  






The Philippines ranked fifth largest producer of banana in the world. India is the top producer followed by Ecuador , Brazil , and China . The volume of banana production in the country by region from 2001-2005 is presented in Table1. Fig.6  shows the comparative banana data for 1996-2005 in the Philippines.  

Table 1. Volume of Banana Production in metric tons by region













CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region)






REGION I (Ilocos Region)






REGION II ( Cagayan Valley )






REGION III ( Central Luzon )


















REGION V (Bicol Region)






REGION VI ( Western Visayas )






REGION VII ( Central Visayas )






REGION VIII ( Eastern Visayas )






REGION IX ( Zamboanga Peninsula )






REGION X ( Northern Mindanao )






REGION XI ( Davao Region)












CARAGA Administrative Region






ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao )






Copyright © 2007 Bureau of Agricultural Statistics





Source: Food and Agriculture Organization

Fig. 6. Comparative Banana Data for 1996-2005, Philippines




Banana is transported in specialized refrigerated ships. Bananas are loaded into refrigerated cargo vessels and shipped green at a controlled temperature of 14.5°C (58ºF). Crossing to Europe lasts about 11 days where the temperature is frequently controlled to avoid any premature ripening. Europe imports Chiquita, Bonita and Fyffes variety.


A long time ago bananas were imported in stems. Then from, Rotterdam to Brussels by train. Afterwhich they will be stocked in temperature controlled rooms until they mature. Today, bananas are imported in boxes, which enables a more easy manipulation and a more convenient process of transportation. But just like in the past, they are stocked in hermetical ripening rooms for 6-8 days at a temperature that does not exceed 14.5°C which allows a homogenous ripening of bananas even at different sizes. (, undated)


Bananas require different handling and postharvest treatments depending on variety. The following SWOT Analysis by Dr. Dionisio G. Alvindia of the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension (BPRE) can be a guide as to the postharvest and handling requirements as well as gaps to be addressed for the Philippine banana cultivars.


SWOT Analysis for Different Banana Cultivars (By: Dr. Dionisio G. Alvindia)

Saba / Cardaba:





·  High demand for fresh and processed product

·  Excellent starch quality

·  The country is the sole producer in large quantities

·  Can be grown in marginal areas

·  Resistant to major diseases

·  Low input requirement

·  Multi-purpose cultivar (fiber, leaves, male bud, stem)

·  Can be grown organically

·  Lack of quality standards for both fresh and processed products

·  Poor cultural management by the farmers

·  Longer growing period

·  Low plant density per unit area

·  Susceptible to “Bugtok”, bract mosaic and other pests

·  Lack of info on pre and post-harvest technologies

·  Inadequate infrastructure

·  Inappropriate marketing system

·  Poor and expensive transport

·  Lack of entrepreneurial skill by the farmer

·  Prone to typhoon/ strong wind

·  CARP implementation

·  Lack of marketing strategies

·  Improved human nutrition

·  Increase economic return

·  High demand in the international market for processed product

·  High demand in the domestic market as snack food

·  Susceptible to viruses and other systematic diseases

·  Land use/ conversion







·  High demand in the local market

·  High potential for the export market

·  Starting to be grown commercially in large areas (>20 ha.)

·  The country is the sole producer in large quantities

·  Good intercrop

·  High yield

·  Can be grown organically

·  Poor cultural management followed by growers

·  Susceptible to viruses, leaf diseases and insect pest

·  Lack of info on pre and post-harvest technologies

·  Inadequate infrastructure

·  Poor and expensive transport system

·  Lack of entrepreneurial skill of farmers

·  Lack of marketing promotions in other countries

·  Lack of quality standard for fresh fruit

·  Prone to typhoon/ strong winds

·  CARP implementation

·  Lack of marketing strategies

·  Increase demand in the local and international market

·  Preferred in the local market

·  High price

·  Appreciation of the market of high quality fruits

·  Improved human nutrition

·  High economic return

·  Viruses, diseases and other pests

·  Land use/ conversion

·  High pesticide use






·  Consumer specific

·  The country is the sole producer in large quantities

·  High sugar content

·  Can be grown organically

·  Stress tolerant

·  Can be grown in marginal areas

·  Have medicinal property

·  Susceptible to viruses and other pests

·  Limited market

·  Poor cultural management followed by farmers

·  Lack of info on pre and post-harvest technologies

·  Inadequate infrastructure

·  Short postharvest life

·  Finger dropping

·  Thin skinned and prone to fruit cracking

·  Lack of quality standards for fresh fruit

·  Poor and expensive transport system

·  Lack of entrepreneurial skill of the farmer

·  Prone to typhoon/ strong wind

·  Inappropriate marketing system

·  CARP implementation

·  Lack of marketing strategies

·  Improve human nutrition

·  Not enough supply in the market

·  High economic return

·  Viruses and other pests

·  Land use/ conversion

·  High pesticide use







·   Favorable agro-climatic conditions

·   Proximity to markets in the region

·   Availability of technology, logistic support and manpower

·   Globally competitive product and superior quality

·   Developed infrastructure in Davao del Norte

·   Institutional producers have an organization, PBGEA

·  Perishable product

·  Mature and undifferentiated produce

·  Limited direct market access

·  Very labor intensive

·  Small growers difficult to police

·  Land disputes affecting productivity and investments

·  Priority for water availability

·  Truck hauling

·  Prone to advocacy issues raised by NGOs

·  Integrate forward selling and distribution

·  Look for new markets

·  Find ways for product differentiation to enhance price and saleability

·  Capitalize on emerging niche markets

·  Develop a Filipino global brand

·  Occasional risks due to adverse climatic disturbances

·  Spiraling cost of production and business costs

·  Weakening economic conditions of the country

·  Unresolved agrarian reform issues

·  Competitiveness of Latin American Bananas

·  Increasing supply and market price softening

·  Proliferation of “fly-by-night” traders who encourage pole vaulting

·  Land use issues

·  Proliferation and illegal use of unregistered chemicals

·  Security issues

·  Dependence on Japan as single biggest market





Small farms in the Philippines have low yield due to the prevalence of diseases and the use of low input technologies. The low availability of good planting materials, high influence of pests and diseases, postharvest losses, inadequate support infrastructure, market and lack of credit access and transportation costs make it difficult for small scale farmers to meet the export requirements. (Espino, et al, 1999)


Nowadays, researchers are using tissue culture technology to produce disease-free planting materials and exploring the use of biotechnology to develop disease-resistant plants. Many banana producers lament the loss of huge portions of banana through the presence of virus diseases, such as bunchy top, mosaic, bract mosaic, and banana streak. Researchers, throughout the world, consider banana bunchy top as the most significant disease problem of banana. Biotechnology manipulations would be highly useful in producing healthy banana that can resist this dreaded banana disease. (, 2002)





Banana production in the Philippines is extensive. The crop is grown along the road side, on mountainside, on home lots and in small farms. As a result, marketing is highly decentralized. In a recent PCARRD-coordinated study, it was found that the banana marketing inefficiencies could result to losses in farmers’ incomes by as much as 25% of what they currently get. There are also substantial losses in the way bananas are graded, counted, handled, and packaged.  (, 2001)




Classification of banana quality was based on a number of quality indexes including dirt, cracks, bruises, scratches, decomposition, cleanliness of the banana cluster and more. The Israel Agriculture Ministry recently issued a guide to rank banana quality to conform to the European standards. The guide classified the fruit according to a discreet grading system: The best are “choice” bananas, grade A bananas are “clean”, grade B are “medium”, and grade C are “poor”.


A choice banana, for example, weighs over 170 grams (about 6 ounces), has a 35-40 mm diameter, and has no cracks, dirt, decomposition, scratches or bruises.


In some parts of the Philippines like in Mindanao , farmer sort bananas in sizes and sold on a per kilogram basis unlike in Mindoro and Quirino where no standard specifications are being followed in terms of size, dimension or quality.




Comparative prices of different varieties of banana for 2001-2005 in the Philippines can be found in Table 2. On the average, the Lakatan variety has the highest wholesale and retail price while the Bungulan variety is the cheapest in terms of wholesale price. The comparative average retail and wholesale prices for the different varieties is presented in Fig.7.


Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics





Fresh Banana ranked second in the country’s Top Agricultural Exports next to Coconut Oil and followed by Pineapple and its products. In 2004, the Philippines had 11.05% share in the world market with 1,797.34 T mt of exports against the 16,262.61 T mt of total world exports (Fig.8). The Philippines is the only Asian country included in the world’s top exporters of banana.



Japan (excluding Okinawa ) is the Philippines ’ top export market for banana with 918.23T mt valued at 172.78M USD. The volume and value of fresh banana exports in other major Philippines markets can be found in Fig. 9.



The percent in fresh banana exports of major Philippine markets in 2005 is in Fig.10. Japan receives 45% of our country’s banana exports followed by South Korea at 12%.



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