Importance and Uses

 

Economic Importance Banana is the fourth important food crop in terms of economic importance. It comes next only to rice, wheat and milk. And India forms the largest producer of banana in the world. The cultivation is distributed through out the country and thus generates employment for many. Apart from desert purpose, a number of value added products are prepared from banana. And many of these products serve as raw materials in confectionary, tanning, beverage, pharmaceutical and animal feed industry.

Nutritional Significance Banana is a rich source of energy. A banana fruit weighing 100 grams will contain around 350 Kilo Joules of energy. The major source of energy in banana is carbohydrate. Apart from carbohydrate, banana fruit is rich in phosphorous, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Traces of Zinc, copper, chlorine, cobalt and iodine are also contained in the fruit.
Most of the vitamins namely Vitamin A, Vitamin C and riboflavin are present in fair quantity in banana. Thus from nutritive point of view, banana can be considered as the cheapest, plentiful and most nourishing of all fruits.

Medicinal Properties Banana fruit have great therapeutic value. Ripe banana is easily digestible and has vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it can even be used as food for three-month-old babies. Elderly people can consume in large quantities without any digestive problems. The low sodium, little fat and no cholesterol make banana a suitable food for people with high blood pressure and heart disease.

Banana is ideal for patients with gout or arthritis as it is free from substances that give rise to uric acid. Banana is included in the special diets of kidney disease sufferers because of law sodium and protein content in the fruit. Banana is also used in ulcer therapy due to its capacity to neutralize free hydrochloric acid. Abnormally fat people may also use banana in their diet due to lipid content of the fruit. Thus banana have great medical significance.
Miscellaneous Uses There are a number of uses for banana that are known for its specialty. Banana from time immemorial is used in various religious offerings. Fruits like Kadali are used for preparation of ‘Panchamritham’ and ‘Rasayanam’. The plant is also grown as an ornamental crop in gardens.

The sheath of the plant is used in the preparation of fiber that is used in agriculture. The rachis is used for tanning of fishing nets. Leaves are also used wrapping materials for perishables. A number of handicrafts like bags, baskets, etc. are prepared from dried midribs. And the dried plant part after burning is used as manure.
References 1. Bose, T.K., Mithra, S.K., Sanyal, D. (1996) Fruits: Tropical and Sub-Tropical, Naya Udyog Publications, Calcutta.
2. Rao, V.N.M.(1998) Banana, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi.