Banana is the third important fruit crop after mango and citrus in the state.
Vijayawada: The food-processing industry has been urging the government to set up a banana development board in Andhra Pradesh, stating that it is necessary for promoting the latest farming techniques, ensuring post-harvesting facilities, development of processable varieties with high yields, and storage and marketing facilities.
Although the state government allocated Rs 10 crore as initial amount to set up the board, there is no progress till date on the subject. Banana is cultivated in an extent of 60,000 hectares in the state with an annual production of 32,42,000 MT.
It is the third important fruit crop after mango and citrus, occupying 8 per cent of the fruit-growing area in the state. Although it is cultivated in almost all districts, it is more prevalent in East Godavari, West Godavari, Kadapa, Guntur, Krishna, Visakhapatnam, Viziana-garam and Kurnool districts.
Banana is a very popular fruit due to its low price and high nutritive value. It is consumed in fresh or cooked form both as ripe and raw fruit. Due to mishandling of the produce, about 25-40 per cent is being wasted while only 2 per cent is processed into value-added products and the remaining is used in raw form.
An economically-viable venture
At present, not much of product diversification of banana is done, as only a few industries are utilising the fruits for dehydration, chips and infant foods. Processing of banana for preparation of derivative products is a promising area since bananas can be pulped, juiced or concentrated, canned, sliced and dried.
Beverages such as banana wine, brandy and vinegar can be made economically.
There is need to promote and make available tissue-cultured plant material of all varieties for propagation.
The setting up of a banana development board on the similar lines of Mango Development Board is necessary for promoting the latest farming techniques, Potluri Bhaskar Rao, general secretary, AP Chamber of Commerce and Industries Federation (APCCIF), observed.
Ensuring post-harvesting facilities, development of processable varieties with high yields, and storage and marketing facilities needs to be taken into consideration on priority basis, he added.
“Although the state government has recognised the need and contemplated setting up banana board by allocating Rs 10 crore grant as initial amount (GO.Ms.no. 57), we understand that there is no progress till date on the subject,” Mr Bhaskar Rao observed.
Similarly, the state government had announced in 2015 the setting up of mango board with the support of the Central government, but the issue has not progressed till date. He requested chief secretary S.P. Tucker, in a letter, to intervene personally, to see that both banana and mango boards are set up fast in the state to make AP horticulture hub and to improve rural economy.
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