Jamaica Banana Industry

Jamaica was the first commercial producer of bananas in the Western Hemisphere. The country’s export trade began in 1866.

The Gros Michel was introduced in Jamaica around 1835. The Robusta was introduced in 1909.  The Lacatan was brought to Jamaica around 1926.

The industry has had various challenges over the years including hurricanes Charlie (1951) and Sandy (2012) and diseases. Developments in the international trade including Global trading rules, such as those of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have also impacted the industry.  Adverse developments in the global market, technological, consumer preference, and other changes have precipitated fall out and survival challenges for the local banana industry.

The Banana Board currently maintains over 150 varieties at the gene bank at the Bodles Breeding Research Banana Station. These genes are developed locally.


Traditional Varieties of Bananas:


Williams (Ziv)

Grand Nain


Gros Michel

Silk (Chinese, Apple and Thousand Fingers)

Banana varieties developed or endemic to Jamaica include:

RG1 (developed by Ren Gonsalves)

Tetraploid 1242 (developed by Dr. Ken Shephard)

Tetraploid 6812 (developed by Dr. Ken Shephard)

Highgate variety


Plantains grown in Jamaica include:

 Horse plantain

French plantain

Saba plantains

Bluggoe (Frog plantains)

One Planty (One Hand Bandit)

Tiger Plantain


Attention is paid to varieties that are resistant or tolerant to black Sigatoka disease and nematode pest infestation with a view to increase cost efficiencies in the Jamaican Banana Industry. Dr. Phil Rowe in Honduras developed bananas and plantains that have 30-50% greater yield than traditional varieties. They are being produced for distribution to domestic market producers in Jamaica. The varieties, to be used for the value-added industry are:


FHIA 17 banana

FHIA 25 banana

FHIA 23 plantain


Jamaica banana and plantain farmers remain determined to provide the highest quality products for both local and international markets.