A noteworthy banana: Karat

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an island nation in the Pacific made up of four states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. Pohnpei has a rich diversity of bananas, estimated at some 50 cultivars[1].

However, its main claim to fame is the nutritional value of the orange-fleshed bananas, many of which belong to a group of unusual bananas called Fe’i. Fei bananas are believed to originate in the New Guinea area but have been found from the Molluccas, in Indonesia, to Tahiti in the east.
Karat bananas
When American nutritionist Lois Englberger moved to Pohnpei in 1997, conditions related to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) had started to emerge in children. To help alleviate the problem, brought about by the consumption of nutrient-poor imported foods, she went on a search for local foods that used to protect islanders against VAD. Acting on information that Karat bananas used to be a traditional infant food, Englberger and her colleagues found that they are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

Since then, Karat bananas have been at the forefront of campaigns led by the Island Food Community of Pohnpei (IFCP).

[1] Daniells et all: Pohnpei banana varieties - a work in progress. See here.

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