Cyclone Yasi leaves banana growers in despair

There was no shortage of bananas following Queensland’s devastating floods, but the recent impact of Cyclone Yasi has left banana growers in far north Queensland in despair. 

Chairman of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) Cameron MacKay said banana growers had taken a significant battering with 95 per cent of major production affected in the Tully and Innisfail region, approximately 20 per cent on the Atherton Tablelands and a further 80 per cent in the Kennedy area south of Cardwell.

Mackay said many growers would face massive repair costs because crop insurance was not available for banana farms.

“With industry worth $400 million, a total of 75 per cent has been affected,” MacKay said. “The majority of Australian bananas are grown in tropical north Queensland, so this is a fairly significant disaster for our industry.”

 “Bananas will continue to be Australia’s number one fruit, so we ask that our consumers understand that the interruption of supply is caused by something completely outside growers control,” he said.

MacKay said the banana industry would feel a huge financial and personal struggle to return production to its previous levels of more than 450 000 cartons per week.

However, not all is lost. Farms in south-east Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia are still in operation.

“While there will be an interruption in supply for the next four months, and consumers are going to see some weather damaged fruit, this should not detract from the fact that there is still some good quality product available,” MacKay said.

The sugarcane industry has also been dealt a devastating blow from the effects of Cyclone Yasi and is expected to face losses of up to $500 million.

Cyclone Yasi, a former category five cyclone which hit far north Queensland on Wednesday, has since been downgraded to a tropical low.

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