Bananas are produced in 135 countries and overseas territories across the tropics and subtropics, according to the statistics compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).1 Most bananas are consumed in the country where they are produced (exports represent less than 16 per cent of global production).
The FAO Statistics Division (FAOSTAT) publishes the data received from countries or applies an imputation methodology2 when countries do not send data. In 2018, this was the case for about two-thirds of the banana-producing countries. FAOSTAT also splits production into two crop items: bananas and plantains.
The words bananas and plantains are used loosely by FAOSTAT to mean dessert bananas and cooking bananas, which is confusing since Plantain is also the name of a group of cooking banana cultivars. Comparing the FAOSTAT production data with the ones published every two years in FruiTrop suggests that FAOSTAT is underestimating the share of cooking bananas in global production and overestimating the one of Plantain cultivars.3 The maps showing where cooking bananas are grown also show important growers of cooking bananas missing on the map using FAOSTAT's plantains production data, compared to the one done using the data published in FruiTrop.
The production data published in FruiTrop are curated by Cirad scientist, Thierry Lescot, who uses as a starting point the FAO data which he re-examines in the light of other evidence, such as reports, national statistics and expert knowledge. He breaks down production into four categories: Cavendish cultivars, other dessert bananas, Plantain cultivars, and other cooking bananas.
Production is measured in tonnes (metric tons). One tonne is equal to 1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds.
FAOSTAT estimates that in 2018 a total of 155.2 million tonnes of bananas were produced: 115.7 million tonnes under their bananas crop item (75%) and 39.5 million tonnes under their plantains crop item (25%).1 However, it's not uncommon to see the 115.7 million tonnes figure erroneously being cited as representing the global production of bananas.4
The estimated production for the same year published in FruiTrop is 139.5 million tonnes: 79.6 million tonnes of Cavendish (57%), 17.5 million tonnes of other dessert bananas (13%), 20.9 million tonnes of Plantain (15%), and 21.4 million tonnes of other cooking bananas (15%)5 .
The FAOSTAT data represent the total of the bananas and plantains crop items, while the FruiTrop data represent the total of four caategories: Cavendish, other dessert bananas, Plantain, and other cooking bananas. Production is measured in tonnes. The estimated quantity of bananas produced in overseas territories is accessible from the country with which it is associated (France, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America).
The maps below show the production of cooking bananas only. Although production is similar (39.5 million tonnes according to FAOSTAT and 42.3 million tonnes according to FruiTrop), there is a marked difference in the number of producing countries. The FruiTrop data cover many more countries, including large producers of cooking bananas, such as India, Indonesia, Rwanda, Burundi, Brazil, Vietnam and China, that according to FAOSTAT only produce dessert bananas.
Below is the list of banana-producing countries and overseas territories and the number of tonnes they each produced in 2018. Production is measured in tonnes. The production values represent the total of the bananas and plantains categories into which the FAO breaks down the banana. Download Excel file of the data: 2018 FAO Production Stats
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The hidden side of banana diversity: How three cultivar-rich but genetically homogeneous types of bananas came to dominate global production. Published 24 October 2017 in InfoMus@.