Banana Growers Affected By Bushfires Could Take More Than A Year To Recover
Bananas are Australia’s most popular fresh fruit but recent bushfires have gutted plantations sparking fears supply and cost could be impacted -- but the major supermarkets have assured customers won't go without.
The country's banana growers are among those severely affected by fires that have ravaged the east coast with some plantations entirely decimated.
Last month, banana farmer Stephen Spear lost 20 acres of Cavendish plants. He is now attempting to recover financially and emotionally for the year ahead.
"In my 40 years working here, it is the first time it has happened to my farm. It is pretty devastating to see everything on the ground or completely black," he told 10 daily.
More than 14,000 of his beloved plants were affected by an inferno which swept through the farm in Nambucca Valley in on the mid-north coast of NSW.
"The packing shed and the equipment also got wiped out," he said.
Spear said the vast majority of banana growers in the area were impacted and expected that it would take at least 12 months, and good weather, to get back into full production.
To help farmers like Spears, the Banana Growers' Bushfire Appeal has been setup to raise much-needed funds for growers in NSW and Queensland.
The campaign, being run by Vicki McCudden, chair of the Nambucca Banana Growers' Association, seeks to raise $50,000. So far, $8,000 has been donated.
"Growers have so far suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage," McCudden said.
One donation came with the following comment: "We love our Australian bananas! Banana farmers seem to face the worst of the worst every year, with cyclones and disease and now fires! And yet we still get delicious quality produce all year round. Thank you."
The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) has put its support behind the fundraising effort.
“Far North Queensland growers, like myself, have received strong public support in the past after cyclones like Yasi. I look forward to both our fellow growers and the wider community getting behind this," ABGC’s Chair Stephen Lowe said.
Will This Effect Banana Supply?
When fires, droughts and natural disasters impact produce, the impact is usually felt in supermarkets.
"Our thoughts are with those impacted by bushfires across the country," a Woolworths spokesperson told 10 daily.
"As we source the majority of our bananas from Far North Queensland, we have not seen any impact on supply or cost at this time".
ALDI also sources most of its banana produce from Far North Queensland and said they have not seen "an immediate impact."
The tropical banana-growing regions of northern Queensland, mainly around Tully and Innisfail, produce more than 90 per cent of Australia's bananas.
Coles echoed this sentiment telling 10 daily, "We haven’t seen any significant impact on supply or cost at the moment".
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