Bananas, the World’s Favourite Fruit

Bananas in Yangon
William, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at the most popular fruit in the world - the long, thin, yellow banana. This fruit is under threat.


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

The banana farm looks like many other banana farms. It is in the Central American country Honduras. The plants are tall and green. And each holds banana fruits – long, thin and yellow. The bananas grow in large groups, called bunches. Soon, people will pick them, to eat. However, this farm is different from many other large banana farms. Most large banana farms grow just one kind of banana - the Cavendish banana. But this farm has more than 300 different kinds of banana plants. That is because the farmers and scientists at this farm are looking for the perfect banana.

Voice 2 

Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. People around the world eat more than 100,000,000,000 bananas every year. It is a big business. But it is also an important small business. In local markets, it is a healthy food for many poor people. Today’s Spotlight is on the banana.

Voice 1 

People have been eating bananas for more than 15,000 years. Bananas are originally from the Malaysian rain forests of Southeast Asia. But 500 years ago, Portuguese settlers brought bananas to many other countries.

In all of these places, people developed new kinds of bananas. They also created new ways to cook and eat bananas! Some bananas are best to eat raw, without cooking. But other bananas are delicious to eat fried in oil.

Voice 2 

In the country of Uganda, people call bananas “matoke”. Matoke is a common food at the afternoon meal. People steam unripe green bananas over boiling water. Then they mash the bananas into a thick mixture. They eat matoke with meat and sauce.

Voice 1 

In Indonesia, people cook with banana leaves. They put food like fish or rice into the leaves. Then they cook the food inside the leaves. When the food is done, a person opens the leaves and eats the food!

Voice 2 

In Honduras, people eat plaintain chips. These chips are thinly cut pieces of banana. People fry these pieces in oil. Then they add salt. The chips are a great snack to eat between meals.

Voice 1 

All of these bananas are good for the human body. They contain vitamins and minerals that people need to stay healthy. For many people in the world, bananas are a good way to get these healthy substances. This is especially true because bananas grow through the whole year. People can always get a banana!

Voice 2 

This also makes bananas an important crop for farmers. However, bananas are also a big business. Big companies grow bananas on large farms, with thousands of plants.

Voice 1 

But these farms all grow only one kind of banana: the Cavendish. Cavendish bananas do not taste the best. They do not have the best quality. There are many, many better bananas. So why do people even grow them? It is because the Cavendish is easy to grow in large numbers. The skin is thick. It does not damage easily. It is easy to transport the Cavendish banana long distances – from growing areas to every country in the world. This is what makes it the most popular banana.

Voice 2 

Like most bananas, the Cavendish banana does not grow from seeds. Instead, small baby plants grow up from the base of the parent plant. Farmers take these baby plants and grow them in another place. As a result, large banana farms are filled with many plants that are exactly the same. But this method of banana farming causes many problems.

Voice 1 

When plants are all exactly the same, they can pass diseases very easily and quickly. This is what has happened in the Cavendish banana farms. Two diseases are threatening bananas - these diseases may even cause Cavendish bananas to die out completely.

Voice 2 

The first disease affecting Cavendish bananas is Black Sigatoga. Farmers use chemicals to kill this disease. But the chemicals hurt the people who use them. Their babies are not born healthy. The chemicals can cause skin and eye problems, and cancer. These chemicals stop Black Sigatoga, but they cause many other problems.

Voice 1 

The second disease is Panama disease. It is even more serious. It is spread through diseased plants. When a farm gets Panama disease, the banana plants all die. In the 1950s, Panama disease completely destroyed another popular kind of banana - the Gros Michel. In the past, the Cavendish banana plant could avoid the disease. But now, Panama disease has adapted and changed. It attacks Cavendish bananas too. Many experts agree that it will probably destroy all Cavendish banana farms. Farmers will have to find another new kind of banana to grow.

Voice 2 

This brings us back to the banana farm we described at the beginning of today’s program. This banana farm is operated by the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Investigation, or FHIA. Scientists at the FHIA farm are growing new kinds of bananas. They use traditional methods to breed the plants. Bananas do make some seeds. So the scientists look for these seeds. They crush many bananas to get a few seeds. Then they use the seeds to plant new bananas. They are looking for very particular qualities. These bananas need to be strong, to resist diseases. But they must also be easy to grow. They must taste good. They must be a good size. And they must be easy to transport over long distances. There are many different kinds of bananas already in the world, but it is difficult to grow a banana that has all of these qualities!

Voice 1 

These scientists have already had some successes. They have developed new kinds of bananas that are popular in Australia, and in Central America. But they have not found a banana to replace the Cavendish. Juan Fernando Aguilar manages this project. He does not think that they will find just one kind of banana. Instead, he thinks that the future will include many kinds of bananas. People will have to learn to eat more than just the Cavendish.

Voice 2 

Do you like bananas? What is your favourite way to eat them? Share your ideas on our website, at

Voice 1 

The writers of this program were Sara DeKoster and Christy VanArragon. The producer was Liz Waid. The voices you heard were from the United States. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Bananas, the World’s Favourite Fruit’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Do you eat bananas? What is your favorite way to eat or cook them?


Avatar Spotlight
said on July 09, 2012

I like bananas and I consume them every day only raw or rather the fried slices of banana on olive oil. Very interesting theme!

Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on July 11, 2012

I like bananas too, it is one of my favorite fruits.
When you want to grow muscles and you work out at the gym, they are helpful.
Ecuador, my country is a big producer of bananas.
When I went to Germany, and went to the store to buy fruit, I saw ecuadorian bananas for sell.
Bananas fried in olive oil? I have to try that, thanks Dela!
Thanks for the program.

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 12, 2012


Avatar Spotlight
said on July 13, 2012

I love bananas. In my country do not grow this fruit. And Ukraine is the only fully get importing. I keep a healthy lifestyle and go the gym. Therefore I cook for myself a banana, cottage cheese and nuts in a blender. This is a good energy before a workout.

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 14, 2012

I don`t know that there are most than 300 kind of banana, I only eat yellow Banana

Avatar Spotlight
said on August 26, 2013

There are some kinds of banana in my country (Vietnam).It is easy to grow.Banana is a full of nutritious fruit.I like to eat it so much as raw.Beside that,banana is used to produce some food as fried banana,banana wine,banana sweet…Please eat it everyday for your health.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on August 28, 2013

Hi all
In my country himself make snacks, soups and many meals with bananas.
Thanks Spotlight

Avatar Spotlight
said on August 29, 2013

There are two more kinds of bananas in my district.One I called it “milk banana”,the other called “da jiao”.I love “milk banana” most.Because it tastes really like drinking milk.
Banana is a good fruit.Most of people would love to eat it by raw,I think.Right?But some people would rather to cut banana into pieces and mix some yoghourt together to eat.It tastes yummy as well.Just have a try,okay?

Avatar Spotlight
said on August 29, 2013

I rather banana ripe ande raw, in my country there is also apple banana it is delicios

Avatar Spotlight
blue diamond
said on August 30, 2013

yellow bananaaaaaas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

Avatar Spotlight
said on September 05, 2013

Hello,I like bananas too,very much…

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 13, 2014

From childhood i ate many bananas. I love it so much. in my hometown, people grow up the banana trees in their garden in front of house, they will grow up by them self. And the banana trees really useful, we used banana fruits to created many kind of fruit like green banana fried with raw, yellow banana mix with flour and fried with oil, yellow banana mixed flour, salt,sugar and coconut and then steam, or green banana was steam and then eat with coconut. it’s really grateful. I miss it so much!

Avatar Spotlight
suong xk
said on October 13, 2014

my parents plants a few banana trees but enough for us :) i totally agree with you guys that banana trees very useful. my parents are farmer, we use banana leaves and trunks for goats and buffaloes ... Using banana leaves for wrapping cakes, special on TET holiday ....

Avatar Spotlight
Mss Flamboyant
said on October 14, 2014

Banana is the most popular fruit in my country. It is also fresh and healthy food. I am really into banana. We can cook some food with banana or eat when it is ripe. Even it is a good mask for girl when we mix with olive or coconut oil. I love this fruit and hope that scientist will find more and more special and good banana.

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 15, 2014

I don’t like banana but for now I will try to eat a lot of bananas.

natasoul's avatar
said on October 17, 2014

Hello my dear Spotlight, I love banana very much and it is my favourite fruit. but the more i like to eat green banana or unripe, i think they have other taste than yellow banana.i think that in the future scientist will find more kinds of this fruit because they are very useful for our health.Thanks for this interesting and cogntive story banana is great !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 24, 2014

i eat seven banana aday

Avatar Spotlight
said on October 29, 2014

An interesting information.

Avatar Spotlight
tigon flower
said on July 23, 2015

In my country, bananas are commonly used in raw. In fact, people here also create many ways to cook bananas and my favorite food is “grilled bananas”. Bananas are covered by a mixture of sticky rice and coconut pieces then all of them are wrapped by banana leaves before being grilled on hot coal. These grilled bananas are served with sweet coconut milk and roasted peanuts. This food includes aromas of bananas, coconuts, sticky rice, peanuts. Especially, the sticky rice covers outside bananas are very crunchy. Hope you can come to Viet Nam and enjoy “grilled banana”.

Mupmip218's avatar
said on October 22, 2015

Hi. I come from Vietnam. In my contry, banana is the very popular fruit, it grows in many countrysides. Its price is also cheap.

But, there is a problem, nowsaday, in order to save time and make the banana color is more beautiful as yellow, many farmers and salesmans have used the chemicals from China, directly apply on the banana skin. It makes the users being poisoning. The normal way is checking by eyes can not detech this problem.
So, we are worried about buying this fruit in the market!