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Things to do in Madeira: Visit a Banana Farm

The culture of Banana was introduced in the Madeira Island during its settlement, however, only from the twentieth century has its cultivation and commercialization abroad gained more expression.

The first reference to the presence of banana cultivation on the island dates from 1552, when the British Thomas Nichols passed through the island, which reported it among the existing cultures. The date of the introduction is, in fact, unknown, pointing out, due to this account, to the sixteenth century.

The orography of the Island, which is characterized by marked relief, conditioned the way the farm was organized. The vast majority of farms are small in size and are terraced with stone walls. Small parcels of land, as far as the banana plantations are concerned, together form more than 700 hectares, representing a considerable part of the entire cultivated area of the Island.

The proximity to the sea, sun exposure and mild climate throughout the year, coupled with the fertility of the soils, a careful selection of plants and a correct irrigation, allow a fruit of unique characteristics. Thanks to these environmental conditions, Madeira produces delicious bananas, known for their intense flavor and aroma.

The geographical position of the island and its climatic conditions mean that the most favorable land for banana cultivation is in the South, between sea level and the altitude of two hundred meters. The “Bananeira” culture has the best conditions for its development: high temperature, due to good sun exposure, and abundant water, from the north of the island through irrigation channels: the levadas. There are also some considerable productions on the North Coast – Freguesias do Porto da Cruz and Faial, however, with lower production levels.

Madeira Banana Production

In the cultivation of the Madeira Banana, good agricultural practices, the environment and European quality standards are respected and fulfilled, guaranteeing to the consumer who relishes this fruit the fullness of its qualities and its European origin. It is an agriculture that aims at rural development and environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Although there are techniques that must be fulfilled in banana cultivation, the way they are executed varies from producer to producer, taking advantage of past knowledge from generation to generation. Still, we can say that:

The development of a banana tree is about 12 to 14 months, from the growth of the plant to the cutting of the banana cluster.

Except for very few exceptions, each banana gives only 1 bunch of bananas, which on average weighs about 25 to 30 kg. The bunch is formed in the bracte, whose common name is bunch of bunch.

The traditional irrigation system of banana lands is flooding, with water reaching the land through irrigation canals – levadas. Many farms are now adopting more modern irrigation systems that allow for greater water savings and more efficient irrigation control, such as drip irrigation and micro sprinkler systems.

The social, environmental and landscape impact that the Madeira Banana culture provides is vital for a region that is chosen as the tourism destination of choice. The small plots of land, where the housing of the producer of Banana da Madeira (social area), often part of the farm, characterize the south-western coastal landscape of Madeira. The tourists who visit us are not indifferent to this subtropical landscape, distinct from all the others, the way it is organized, where the social area – farmers’ housing – is also part of the farm. This landscape excels by the proximity between the product and the one it produces, in perfect harmony with the environment.

When the farmer cuts the bunch, the mother plant is thinned, cutting all the leaves, allowing a greater sun exposure / luminosity to its offspring (daughter, left-handed), who will start a new productive cycle, using in its initial development, of the nutrients that the mother plant still has to offer.

During its life cycle, the banana tree must undergo several cleaning operations. The dried leaves are cut, the bunches are cleaned, the bracts are extracted, thus benefiting the quality of the fruits during their development, and the pistils (dried floral remains present at the ends of the berries) are removed. As for the penguin, this should be cut two months before harvest.

What to do in Madeira? Let´s book a Banana Farm Experience!

Our farmer is a producer of banana from Madeira, this one, is a subspecies of banana originated and grown extensively on the island of Madeira, traditionally smaller than the South American banana but accentuated on the palate.

You can embark on interesting tour that will take them closer to a banana tree. In the farm you will spend part of their glorious time to learn how banana trees are planted, identify various varieties and species of banana grown on slopes of Madeira Island.

After the farm experience, see and learn how different varieties of banana are used by local people. This session will take you to learn everything about banana of Madeira.

Location: Funchal

Duration: 3 hours   Number of people: 2 to 20 PAX

Our experience will include:

  • Arrival at the farm and welcome by the producer
  • Guided tour of the farm
  • Workshop cleaning / maintenance of a banana tree
  • Harvest your own bananas
  • Tasting bananas and honey cake from Madeira with wine / water