Bananas are extremely important crop in Asia and the Pacific. The crop is largely grown by smallholders and thereby plays a major role in food security and income generation for millions of the rural poor. In terms of gross value of production, bananas are the developing world’s fourth most important global crop after rice, wheat and maize. In spite of its importance, yields of bananas in small-scale farms remain very low with serious production problems, in contrast to the high productivity in commercial plantations for the export market.
Pests and diseases are considered the major limiting factors of production and their impact is most felt by smallholder farmers who do not have the technical and economical capabilities to manage this problem.
Asia is the centre of origin of bananas. It is also the region where a variety of pests and diseases seriously afflicting the crop. Many of these diseases are very destructive, causing significant losses of fruit yield and quality. Fusarium wilt is one of the most important banana diseases. The virtual elimination of Gros Michel variety in the commercial banana plantations in Central America is a proof of its devastating effect. The occurrence in Asia of other pathogenic and virulent race that attacks the Cavendish and other cultivars remains to be a major threat and constraint to the banana industry.
World banana production was approximately 95 million tonnes, of which only 10% goes into the export market while the rest is consumed locally as a staple food or as a dessert fruit mostly from Africa, Tropical America and Asia. Meanwhile, world banana and plantain production amounted from 5.1 million tonnes to 18.1 million tonnes in year 2007 and 2017 respectively. This shows that global trends in banana production are rising considerably as staples and commodities for export. They are fast growing perennial crop that can be harvested throughout the year.
Banana production in Malaysia covers a wide spectrum of systems, ranging from small plot subsistence farming to supply the local markets, to large plantations that produce quality fruits for export. About 12% of the total production is exported, mainly to Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong and the Middle East with an average of more than 20 000 million tonnes exported from 2011 to 2017 with an estimated revenue of RM 40.1 million.
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