Thiruvananthapuram hosted the National Banana Festival on Sunday, in which over 150 varieties of the state’s favourite fruit were displayed. From south Kerala’s own Kappapazham (red banana) to Popolou, an exotic variety from Hawai, the festival was a vibrant sight and a haven for banana enthusiasts.
Starting from the Vellayani Devi temple in Kalloor panchayat, a 30,000 sq ft stretch of land was set aside to display the bananas and a host of other products such as banana honey, chips, jams and preserves.
The temporary kiosks were bustling with activity with banana varieties from the south Indian states, Chhatisgarh, J&K, Maharashtra and also from other countries being displayed. The exhibition included Popolou, the African Horn Plantain, the native Rastali, Champa and Cherapadathi, Paunish bantal, Patkapura, Quintal Nendran, Bauish Cherriya, Kachkel, and so on.
Krishna Chaithanya, from Andhra Pradesh, came with the produce of ten farmers. “There is the Kadappa, Karpoora, Pedda Pachan Arati, Red Banana, Grand Nine, Rastali, Bontha, Potti Panchcha Arati and Tella Chekkra Keli. I am from Kadappa district. The farmers in the region mostly cultivate only one variety... our effort is to promote cultivation of multiple varieties,” he says.
The festival is the first attempt by the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA) to boost banana cultivation. Dr C Suresh Kumar, General Secretary, CISSA, said, “There are two activities happening at the fest: exhibition and seminars. In the seminar, there are experts from institutes from several parts of the country participating, like Central Institute of Food Technology in Thanjavur, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research in Bengaluru, Mahatma Gandhi University of Rural Industrialisation in Pune and even UNESCO.”
The seminars focused on the marketing and storage aspects of bananas, and on the value-added products that can be made from the fruit.
“About 25 to 40% of the crop is wasted because of the lack of proper storage facilities. Banana is the fourth largest crop cultivated in the country and India is the largest cultivating country. Boosting banana production is a collective responsibility. Now there is the emerging concept of organic banana, which should also be promoted,” he added.
(All photos by Sreekesh Raveendran Nair)