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Research Seminar No.227, 6 February 2023
16:30-, The Interdivisional Education and Research Building, 5th Floorbr
「Trends in Banana Cultivation and Utilization in the Japanese Islands」
(School of Global Humanities and Social Sciences, Nagasaki University)
Banana production in Japan was mainly limited to the sub-tropical islands of Ryuku and Ogasawara. Over the past few years, however, attempts have been made to cultivate the fruit in the temperate zones of Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu, and Hokkaido, which were considered unsuitable for banana production. This study aimed to review the trends in banana cultivation and utilization in the Japanese archipelago.
The relationship between humans and bananas consists of two major components. One is the indigenous cultures that developed in different tropical and subtropical zones whereas the other is mass production on tropical plantations and mass consumption in the temperate and cold zones. Today, such issues as the global spread of diseases and pests, long food miles, and inequality between producers and consumers are particularly complicated. Against this background, the new developments in Japan can be viewed as a sign of a changed outlook of people in Japan, including the Nansei Islands, and modifications in the flow of banana production and consumption.
Based on newspaper and magazine articles on domestically produced bananas until 2018, banana plantations north of Kyushu can be roughly classified into the following three types. The first is farms that focus on sales to consumers (sales-specific); the second is farms that concentrate more on hands-on activities, such as harvesting events and plant ownership (experience-oriented); and the third is gardens that grow bananas on a small scale as an extension of a personal hobby and at times give them away as gifts or, on rare occasions, for sale. Since 2018, different methods of cultivation and use have been observed, and the exchange of information among banana growers has increased. However, the characteristics of this fruit and its history of spreading through personal networks have made it challenging for growers to identify cultivars.
Fig 1：Greenhouse cultivation of bananas in Kagoshima Prefecture