Bananas

Bananas are the fourth most important staple crop in the world, and are significant for food security in many tropical countries. They are also the most commonly eaten fruit in the world.

It takes about eight months for the banana bunch to grow. First the "madre"(stem) grows and three weeks after the flower appears, small fingers start to appear. A protective bag is then placed over the bunch to stop insects and birds attacking the fruit.

Twelve weeks later the bananas can be harvested. The stem then dies and the farmer selects the "nino" (child) stem to grow and take the mother's place. The process then starts all over again.

The plant grows in tropical climates, up to 7.5 metres high and can render up to 40 kilograms of fruit per year (around 300 bananas) without needing fertilisation. Its leaves are really large, up to three metres, and can be used for decoration purposes. In spite of these dimensions, bananas aren't derived from a real tree, but an herbaceous plant - the biggest of them all.

They are picked and shipped when still green, sent to the destination country in refrigerated containers (at 14ÂșC) and ripened afterwards using ethylene gas, their natural ripening agent.

If all the bananas grown in the world every year were placed end to end, they would circle the earth 2,000 times.

World banana production amounts to around 81 million tonnes per year and due to the climatic conditions required for successful growth, production is mainly concentrated in developing countries in Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.

People from some of these countries are dependent on the international banana trade for their livelihood. Our lending to banana customers is based primarily in Peru through farming cooperatives like Bos.

Did you know that Peru is relatively new to bananas? However, despite its late entry to the market the country has a competitive advantage in that the climate is relatively dry, which reduces the risk of fungus and allows the farmers to cultivate their bananas without the use of chemicals.