It is estimated that over 80 million metric tons of bananas are produced every year around the world. Bananas and their cousin, the plantain, are a staple in many diets. The majority of bananas for import are grown in Central and South America and in Africa. The bulk of bananas grown for eating are consumed in Central and Western Africa. In Uganda alone, it is estimated that each person eats around 1 1/3 lb. per day. This is roughly 16 times the amount eaten by people living in the United States.
Bananas are a source of potassium and vitamins A and C and are easy to digest. Due to their digestibility, bananas are often the first fruit given to a baby as solid food. Combined with milk, it is possible to live on these two food sources alone for an indefinite period of time. Because of their popularity, bananas are a cash crop for many countries, and their export fuels the national economy.
The majority of bananas are grown by traditional methods, but the current demand for organic practices is changing the way banana farmers produce their crops. It is estimated that as the demand for organics increases, the traditional methods of growing will become a thing of the past except in smaller, undeveloped nations.
Bananas require tropical conditions to grow. This makes them well-suited as a crop in countries near the equator, such as Columbia, Costa Rica and Ghana. Bananas are eaten all around the world, but they are a diet mainstay only in countries that produce the fruit.
The price of organic bananas makes them a luxury for most people. Currently, Germany consumes the most organic bananas, with England the second in demanding organic produce. As farming practices change, this price may go down over time, but for most consumers, the cheaper banana grown by the traditional means will often be the first choice.
As more banana-producing countries improve harvesting methods and the transportation of the fruit to market, banana consumption worldwide will possibly continue to rise as the fruit becomes more economical to purchase. Yearly, a large portion of the world's banana crop is lost to weather, soil conditions and the inability to get the harvest to market.