Why Bananas Matter: An introduction to the history of banana domestication
AbstractThe multi-disciplinary contributions to this volume are all dedicated to the history of banana (Musa spp.) domestication and its significance. Wild bananas of the genus Musa have undergone a complex domestication history that has only been partially unravelled and remains to be fully elucidated. This volume is the first attempt to synthesise the latest ‘state of the art’ research across a range of disciplines (either in combination or separately), including contributions from archaeobotany, genetics, linguistics and phytogeography.
Bananas are a key domesticate of subsistence farmers across the wet tropics and subtropics, including today the Americas, Africa, South Asia, mainland and Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia and the Pacific. Although bananas are one of the most important commercial crops in the world, it is estimated that 87% of banana production is for local food consumption (Bioversity International 2008). Apart from the hundreds of fully domesticated banana varieties, of which many are grown outside their natural range, an uncertain number of varieties cultivated today are still in various stages of domestication, because they are still inter-fertile with wild surrounding populations that continually introduce new genetic material into cultivated stock.
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