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Written by: Taher Nassrulla on 21 January 2015

Bananas for Africa


In Tanzania bananas are part of the staple diet and are eaten in nearly all households. Driving through the country, banana plants and plantations are seen everywhere. It is believed that more than 20 varieties of bananas grow in Tanzania but not all are suitable for eating. Cultivars are divided into three groups.


The groups are:

Plantain – cooking bananas

Fruits – sweet bananas

Beer – purely for making local beer or wine

Bananas do not have a specific growing season here, which means they are available all year round. Some parts of the country are major banana producers and they supply Tanzania’s demand. Each banana plant only produces fruit once and depending on the type, can take from 9 months to ripen up to a year in the case of the famous “red banana”.
Also interesting is that some types of cooking bananas will turn sweet if left long enough to ripen. Westerners know bananas as bright yellow when it ripens, but Tanzanian bananas stay green even when they are ripe.


Seeds are not available which means all the bananas are grown from the shoots that appear underneath an existing banana plant. Once the fruit is harvested the plant is cut exactly in half. This allows all the nutrients in the plant to be directed to the smaller shoots.


Bananas can be used for many other things and not just for human consumption. For many in the country nothing goes to waste from a banana plant. The leaves can be used for roofing, house building or as a recyclable umbrella if it is raining. Some even use it as a platter to serve food. The trunk is often cut up into small pieces and used as feed for livestock and the bark can also be used for fencing. It is also possible to make paper out of the banana trunk and its fibers. At souvenir shops you find works of art crafted from banana plants, such as jewelry and home decorations.

Much research is done in Tanzania to improve banana farming such as the introduction of new pest-resistant varieties and currently Tanzania is one of the 10 biggest producers of bananas in the world.

Author: Taher Nassrulla

Born in East Africa, Taher was intrigued by the natural and geographical diversity of the African bush from a young age. After spending some time in Europe, he returned to Tanzania in 2004 to start a new chapter in his life. Since then he has been spending as much time as possible in the bush, learning. Taher speaks English, Kiswahili and German fluently and is a passionate photographer. Using the skills he has learnt over the years, he now takes tourists out on safari as a German-speaking tour leader and guide.

4 thoughts on “Bananas for Africa”

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    • Thank you Steven, we would recommend to use search engines to get more information about bananas in that particular area of Tanzania.

  • Good work here! I love figures and there would be happy to see a lot of percentages.
    Keep it up.

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