Carl Linnaeus classified bananas and plantains as two distinct species. Modern taxonomists regrouped them into different cultivars of the same species. Because of this fuzzy distinction, statistics do not always differentiate between bananas (dessert banana) and plantains (cooking banana); therefore, we lump the two crops together in our analyses.

Bananas originated in South East Asia and Oceania, appeared in Africa around 500 AD and are grown today in more than 100 countries in the tropical world. Asia is the largest producer with 43% (of which about 50% are from India in the form of bananas), followed by Africa with 29% (a quarter of it from Uganda in the form of plantains) and the Americas with 27%. Most of the ‘musas’ cultivated in Africa are for local consumption (approx. 200kg annually per capita in parts of Eastern Africa), whereas the Americas mainly export. Interesting statistics, considering that the major religions in the Middle Ages thought of bananas as the forbidden fruit of paradise.

Reference to numbers/statistics are from FAOSTAT 2010 for the year 2008

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