Bananas and Agroforestry

Do you think bananas are cultivated only in large plantations?

Maybe if you consider the global demand, you might believe that it cannot be met without the supply of large-scale banana farming. However, of course, bananas can also be sourced from small and medium-sized plantations that, besides, mitigate some of the damaging effects of monocropping.

There, it is possible to imagine plantations of bananas, from time to time hidden by the mist, in a forest of different types of trees. So, let me explain to you today an alternative eco-friendly land use: Agroforestry.

Agroforestry: it minimizes adverse climatic factors

It must be noted that large-scale production of bananas, as traditionally conducted, can also be sustainable thanks to good environmental practice or investments into new technological advances. Nevertheless, on those plantations crops are more vulnerable to adverse climatic factors. And herein lies one benefit of Agroforestry: it minimizes adverse climatic factors. But …

what is Agroforestry?

Imagine you belong to a family of farmers who have grown bananas for decades. For many years your land has been exclusively dedicated to this delicious fruit, but now you are willing to restore biodiversity as much as possible. For example, you would like to recover the mango and cacao trees that once grew in this area while maintaining the banana business. You could not do it if you had not heard of this ecological management system named Agroforestry.

Bananas can grow amongst other plant species

According to FAO, Agroforestry is “a collective name for land-use systems … where woody perennials are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops …”. This means that bananas grow amongst other plant species within the same farm.

Agroforestry agriculture and bananas

This use of the land combines agriculture and forestry, something that may at first appear impossible. But it is in fact possible and has many benefits:

  • Farmers who grow bananas according to an agroforestry system, not only minimize adverse climatic factors, but they also provide a better yield for bananas. As we have described in our post Globetrotter bananita, bananas require a constant supply of moisture. This environmental requirement can be easily accomplished with perennial high trees that provide shadow and preserve water in the soil.
  • An agroforestry system furnishes plenty of space for wild animals fostering their natural habitats.
  • It works as a tool against soil erosion. The transition to agriculture from natural vegetation can increase soil erosion beyond the soil’s ability to maintain itself. Plant biodiversity reduces soil erosion by slowing down water flows on the ground surface.
  • And, above all, agroforestry helps in the battle against climate change. Its permanent tree cover not only protects and improves the soil, it also increases soil carbon stocks.

These long-term positive effects make agroforestry an excellent crop system with social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

So … let´s spread this knowledge among all the communities!