Banana is an indigenous plant of South-East Asia. It was grown in the country since ancient times. There is reference of its cultivation in the Pali literature (500-600 BC). The Arabs carried it to Palestine and Egypt (17th century). Today it is an important fruit in the tropical regions of the world. Banana is rich in minerals and vitamins.
The plant of banana requires hot and humid climate. Temperature conditions between 25°C-30°C (not less than 11°C), annual rainfall above 150 cm, and well-drained clayey soils rich in humus are best suited to the crop.
The average per hectare yield of banana has registered an increase of 67.66 per cent between 1950-51 (147.5 qtl/ha) and 1997-98 (247.3 qtl/ha). Gujarat provides the highest per hectare yield (592 qtl/ha), followed by Tamil Nadu (386.8 qtl. /ha) and Maharashtra (374.9 qtl. /ha). On the other hand Andaman & Nicobar islands, Bihar, Tripura, Kerala, Bihar and Mizoram record Less than 100 qtl./ha of yield.
Manipur, Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur districts), Tripuraand Andaman Nicobar islands.
The main varieties of banana cultivated in India include Poovam in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh; champa, mortaman and amrit sagar in West Bengal; basrai, saved velchi, lal velchi and rajeli in Maharashtra; rastali, sirumalai, chakkarekeli, poovam, kadali andpocha nadan in South India; and champa and mortaman in Assam and Orissa.
Most of the banana produced is consumed inside the country. Half of it is used as vegetable while ripe banana is a nourishing fruit. Banana is also utilised in making atta, paste, sweetmeat, icecream, chips, chocolate, alcohol etc. Some amount of banana is also exported to foreign countries.