It’s no slip-up, there are almost no bananas in Turkmenistan

It’s no slip-up, there are almost no bananas in Turkmenistan
Well, yes... and no. / MZaplotnik, cc-by-sa 3.0
By bne IntelliNews April 27, 2024

Often in the headlines for its “bananas regime”, Turkmenistan, it appears, is actually a place where you would struggle to find a banana.

EastFruit analysis has shown that a mere estimated 160 grams of banana per person per year is consumed in the remote Central Asian nation, placing the country right at, or at least very near, the bottom of the global rankings for banana consumption. The figure means that the average Turkmen consumes less than one banana annually. Even North Korean consumers have a higher average than that at an estimated 200 grams per person per year.

Bananas have long been the undisputed leader in the global fruit trade.

However, EastFruit noticed that in Central Asia it is not just Turkmenistan that has little to do with bananas, the other four countries of the region also have relatively low banana consumption figures.

Kazakhstan tops the ranking at 4.5 kg per person per year, followed by Uzbekistan at 4 kg, Kyrgyzstan at a similar level and Tajikistan at 2.3 kg.

For comparison, Uganda tops the global banana chart at 270 kg per person per year.

Andriy Yarmak, an economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was reported as saying: "The low banana consumption in Central Asian countries is due to the distance from port infrastructure, making logistics expensive. Additionally, many countries in the region face high tariffs and non-tariff barriers hindering the import of exotic fruits. Lastly, comparatively low prices of local fruits, especially during their peak production season, play a role."

Central Asia is, however, gradually becoming a significant exporter of fresh fruit and vegetable products. That may lead to increased openness to, and facilities and opportunities for, banana imports. Such a trend is already noticeable in Uzbekistan, according to EastFruit.