Nobody wants to buy cut or bruised bananas. That’s why when you grow bananas, the care that you take to pack and transport the cut bunches is just as important as the effort you put into growing the fruit. It is important that bananas reach the buyer in good condition. If they don’t, you may lose your buyers! Here’s some helpful information that Mariá Elena González Pellón, a Farm Radio Network member from Cuba, has to share about packing and transporting this fragile fruit.
As Mariá and many of you know, bananas must be handled carefully and properly during harvesting, packing and shipping. The skin is tender and bruises easily. Bruising can leave ugly spots on the skin. And diseases can get into the fruit through damaged skin. However, bananas can be transported a long way if they are handled and packed with care.
When the bananas are ready for harvest, take time to prepare your vehicle. Do this before you cut the bunches. Bananas get marked when they touch hard materia. To prevent marking, pad the bottom and sides of the truck or wagon with a soft material such as banana leaves or strips of green banana tree stems or plastic foam. Don’t drag or throw the bunches. You can pile the banana bunches in several layers, but be sure to put padding ? a layer of something soft ? between each layer. You may want to cut the stalks of the bunches short so that they do not stick into other bunches. The load should be tight and firm so that the bunches cannot move around while the truck is moving. When you have finished loading the wagon or truck, cover the load with banana leaves and tie it firmly with rope. Take care and drive slowly when you transport bananas on bad roads.
Also remember that bananas should never be left in the sun after harvest or they will ripen too quickly. If there is no shady area, cover them with banana leaves. Do not leave them in direct contact with the soil. The moisture from the soil may damage the skin. Once the skin is damaged, insects and diseases can get in and spoil the fruit. If you must put the bunches on the ground, place them on top of banana leaves.
When you unload the bunches from your vehicle, be careful not to drag or throw them. The bunches will probably be taken to a storage centre, where they will be separated into hands. The bananas will be washed to clean them and remove the sap, and then placed carefully in boxes.
Mariá knows that it takes a little extra time to pack and transport bananas carefully. But it’s worth the extra effort, because it will keep your fruit healthy so that it gets to the buyer in the best possible condition.
Contributed by: Mariá Elena González Pellón, Centro de Información Filial – IDICT, Academia de Ciencias de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Academy of Science), Cuba. Translated from Spanish to English by Olga Jerez.
Banana Production in the South Pacific, 1980, pp 35-36. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia.