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For other meanings, see: Banana, Australia[?]

A banana is the fruit of plants of the genus Musa in the family Musaceae. They are long and thin, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. The fruit is soft, and is usually peeled and eaten raw. It is a rich source of potassium. Some varieties, usually referred to as plantains are not sweet: they are used in cooking and are the staple starch of some tropical populations.

Common bananas, the type
that is usually sold to people to eat

The commercial sweet varieties most commonly eaten in temperate countries (species Musa acuminata or the hybrid Musa x paradisiaca) are imported in large quantities from the tropics, where they are popular in part because they are available fresh year-round. While the original bananas contained rather large seeds, seedless and triploid varieties have been selected for human consumption. These are propagated in an asexual manner from offshoots of the plant.

Banana Extinction

In 2003 Belgian plant pathologist Emile Frison[?] of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain[?] stated that the dominant commercial banana variety Cavendish may become extinct within 10 years. The limited genetic diversity of cultivated bananas (which is due to their asexual reproduction) make them vulnerable to diseases such as black Sigatoka[?] (or a new strain of Fusarium wilt[?], also known as Panama disease[?]). The magazine New Scientist added, "We may see the extinction of the banana, currently a lifesaver for hungry and impoverished Africans and the most popular product on the world's supermarket shelves." According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Cavendish bananas make up about 10% of the total world banana crop, with small-scale farmers continuing to grow numerous other varieties. The predecessor to the Cavendish, the Gros Michel, had suffered a similar fate.

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