Banana Essay

Transcript


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 www.radioenglish.net.

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 www.radioenglish.net. 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.

Question:

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

The Banana Plant Essay

Bananas are the fruit of a plant of the genus Musa, which are cultivated primarily for food, and secondarily for the production of fibers. It is alleged that there are almost 1000 varieties of bananas in the world, subdivided in 50 groups (Bora, 2007). The most generally known banana is the seedless Cavendish variety, which is the one produced for export markets and pronounced for consuming. The banana is the fruit of an herbaceous plant related to the orchid family and is most commonly found in tropical climate areas which become an exotic product of cold environment zones.
The banana is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia and Malaysia, and cultivation could have started as early as 8000 BCE. The professionals believe that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans and the first domestication took place in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, but China was the first country to cultivate the fruit in an organized production method. The banana did not hit the market in the United States until 1870 after two men realized it’s potential. Lorenzo Dow Baker was a ship captain that brought the banana back from a trip in Jamaica and sold it in the New Jersey market for a small profit. The other man was Minor Keith who worked on a railroad in Costa Rica and planted banana trees near the construction site. After the railway was completed he transported the fruit by train to the United States for retailing and soon the banana became a very popular food in the US. The mass production potential of the banana was discovered in the same year by several American and European businessmen. They implemented a plan to export the fruit and established companies for its plantation. Gradually, an entire industry emerged in Central and South America for plantation and export of the banana. United Fruit Company was the first to start the commercial production of bananas and now it is one of the most desirable fruits in the world, including USA. Bananas are cultivated in more than 170 countries around the world and play a significant role in the economy of developing countries (Bora, 2007).
The banana is considered one of the super foods in health because it is low in calories and fat, high in vitamin B6, and easy to digest. It also contains fiber, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, and is therefore referred to, as holistic food. Bananas can be very effective for patients suffering from anemia, blood pressure, constipation, depression, heartburn, stress. They are also found to be valuable in enhancing brain power (Hirst, 2007). Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose and combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for an active 90-minute workout. Bananas' health benefits make it one of the most nutritious fruits in the world and an added bonus is the delicious taste.
Banana plants can grow in various...

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