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The travelling exhibition of bananas!

6 June 2008
 Banana Farmer
 A little green, but a good looking bunch all the same!
No End to the Banana is an exhibition travelling the world that explores the diversity of bananas. It aims to show the wide variety of bananas and the many uses they have, it also illustrates how research can help use banana diversity to increase options for both small-scale farmers in the developing world and consumers. The exhibition is currently travelling through the US and has also visited the UK and other parts of Europe.

The banana that most people probably know is the Cavendish variety; one of only 1000’s of banana varieties throughout the world. This is produced for the mass market but 85% of the world’s bananas are grown by small-scale farmers. They are a staple of the diet in many tropical countries much like the potato and rice. Bananas provide a year round food source as well as providing the fibre to make a wide range of products for many people in the developing world.

Obviously the banana is of great importance, but the pressure to produce nice-looking yellow bananas for sale is having worrying affects on the diversity of the species. This lack of variety also makes bananas and their farmers more vulnerable to pests and disease. The exhibition shows the importance of keeping diversity in banana crops by underlining the many uses of the differing varieties, rather than just the nice yellow banana that sits in the supermarket.

 Banana exhibition display
 The bright and colourful banana display.
Research into breeding new varieties is also an important part of the exhibition. Researchers are looking to develop new varieties with increased pest and disease resistance, the desirable seedlessness and increased yields. There are very few banana breeders, compared to other staple crops, and the importance of funding this research is highlighted by the exhibition.

The exhibit consists of a number of displays, films, products made from banana fibre and processed foods made from the different varieties of bananas. It also has a French version.

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