Pisang is scientifically known in Latin as Musa. This plant is internationally known as bananas. In Indonesia, bananas have many other names according to the local language.
Bananas are called cawu in West Java in Sundanese, gadhang or Gedhang in Central Java in Javanese, biyu in Balinese, punti in Lampung and koyo in Ternate. Meanwhile, in China, bananas are known as chiao, mpanana in Greece, banaan in the Netherlands and Kela in India.
Origins of Naming
Its name banana internationally began after its spread by Arab traders. Native bananas originating from Southeast Asia are small, about the size of an adult's finger. This caused Arab traders from the African continent to give bananas a name based on the Arabic word for finger, namely "bana'an" (Australian Bananas). then bana’an was absorbed into English to become banana.
The name of the genus Musa was coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 AD. Most likely the name comes from Antonius Musa, a physicist from the era of Emperor Augustus or is an adaptation of the word mauz in Arabic.
Bananas are the oldest fruit crop in the world
Bananas are said by many horticultural experts to be one of or perhaps the oldest ancient fruit plants in the world. A guide written by ethno-geographer C.O. Sauer in a scientific article written by Prof. Edmond De Langhe draws attention to the fact that some fishermen in Southeast Asia use the dry stems of banana plants as fiber to tie bamboo to create a type of raft used for fishing along the coast. The spread of banana vegetation near villages is a simple means of providing this material resource.
After thousands of long years, the propagation and spread of this vegetation eventually produced fleshy, seedless fruits that were attractive as a food source. This practice is also said to be responsible for the sterilization of seeds in many plant cultivars.
If the term ‘crop’ refers to plants that can be grown for a living, then the edible plantains and diploid bananas that date back thousands of years may have been the world's first fruit crops. Especially when hunting and gathering activities are still the main means of procuring food.
Origin and Early History of Cultivation
Bananas are believed to originate from Southeast Asia, including eastern Indonesia such as Papua, the forests of Malaysia, or the Philippines.
There is a definite belief that the population of hunters and gatherers who settled in Indonesia and Melanesia around 60,000 years ago, a people who were not afraid to sail long distances to reach Papua New Guinea and Australia, was the population that first cultivated plantains. This region is precisely the region of origin of edible diploid bananas and possibly plantains and Maia Maoli/Popoulu bananas.
Most likely, this area (Papua) is the area where the Melanesians started itinerant agriculture using wild methods of propagating taro and bananas. This activity then led to the domestication of the plantain plant. However, the Maia Maoli/Popoulu type of banana is not found in Western Indonesia, which is the area where plantains are cultivated. So it can be said that the Maia Maoli/Popoulu banana is a banana native to the Asia Pacific region.
It is also known that Melanesian people have developed and grown the Maia Maoli/Popoulu type of banana plant which was propagated 30,000 years ago (De Langhe, 1995).
Archaeologists have focused much attention on the Kuk Valley in Papua New Guinea around 8,000 BC as the area where humans first cultivated bananas. Additionally, although this is the first known location of banana domestication, other spontaneous domestication projects may have occurred in other areas of Southeast Asia and in the South Pacific (UC Santa Cruz).
Julie Sardos, a genetic resources scientist at the Alliance of Bioversity International, said that around 7,000 years ago, bananas were not the fleshy, seedless fruit we know today. The most striking difference is the flesh which contains many black seeds and is almost inedible. People in ancient times could only eat the flowers and tubers that were underground (Pennisi, 2022).
The origins of Austronesian-speaking people can be traced to Taiwan, where many of the population then moved to the Philippines and then to eastern Indonesia around 5500 years ago. They also bring their horticultural skills with them. A millennium or a thousand years later, one or several groups of these people sailed east and established colonies along the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, specifically in the Bismarck and Solomon Islands.
In their travels, the Austronesians came and came into contact with the indigenous people of the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Melanesia, from whom they learned how to cultivate plants such as taro and bananas (De Langhe, 1995).
Shape Description and Growth
Banana plants are giant or large herbaceous plants that emerge from underground stems, or rhizomes to form pseudo-stems that curve continuously as high as 3 – 6 meters (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2023).
The banana is a long, curved fruit with smooth skin that is yellow, and sometimes slightly green. The average length of the fruit can reach up to about 17 cm to 22 cm, and the diameter is about 5 to 7 inches. The skin of the fruit is usually yellow when ripe, but can also be green, red, or purple depending on the variety.
The inside of the fruit consists of several creamy or whitish-yellow fleshy segments, which are surrounded by a thin white membrane. The segments are united by a central core and contain small black seeds that are not usually eaten. The flesh is soft, slightly sweet, and slightly sticky.
Bananas as a plant now consist of at least 1000 varieties, with 230 of these varieties being found in Indonesia. Musa acuminata is a type of banana that is believed to be one of the parents of commercial bananas which are now widely cultivated in Indonesia (Anggraeni Mulyono et al.).
The Musa ingens banana variety is said to be the largest banana variety in the world. Banana trees of this variety are endemic bananas and are said to grow up to 25 to 30 meters high and are equivalent to 6 to 7 times larger than banana varieties in general.
The Musa ingens type of banana can be found in the West Arfak mountains of Papua province in Indonesia. This giant banana was first collected as a specimen by Womersley JS and Simmonds NW, on 22 December 1954 in Papua New Guinea. Now the Musa ingens banana is kept as a spirit collection in the British Kew Herbarium collection (Indonesian Information Portal Administrator, 2021).
Commercialization of Bananas
Now bananas are the most widely cultivated plant in the world with approximately 150 countries being banana cultivators. Based on data written by Daniil Filipenco in 2023, it is stated that India is the largest banana producing country in the world with an income of approximately 33 million tons. Then followed by China with an income of approximately 11 million tons and Indonesia in third place with an income of approximately 8.7 million tons per year.
The Cavendish banana type is the variety that dominates the banana cultivation industry today. However, until the 1950s, the Gros Michel banana was the most popular type of banana before it finally died out because it gave rise to Panama disease which results from a fungus in the soil.
Ingredients and Other Benefits of Bananas for Health
One medium-sized banana contains 105 calories, 1 gram of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of fat (Coolick, 2023). The fiber content in bananas can help the body's digestive system, while the potassium contained in bananas can help maintain a healthy heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves. Apart from that, bananas are also said to be able to maintain blood pressure, blood sugar levels, maintain bone health and help form protein through their magnesium content.
Use of Bananas as Organic Fertilizer
As one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world, bananas have helped make the plantation industry very profitable. However, problems arise from the banana plantation industry through the abundance of banana waste.
Therefore, the need arises to be able to deal with banana industry waste. Various studies were then carried out to produce the conclusion that banana stem waste could be processed to make liquid organic fertilizer and organic compost.