Hon Ken Baston MLC

Hon Ken Baston MLC

Former Minister for Agriculture and Food; Fisheries

    Carnarvon banana growers rebound after Olwyn

    9/03/2016 10:00 AM
     
    • $10 million a year banana industry recovering after March 2015 cyclone
    • Carnarvon bananas available in stores in small quantities, with supplies expected to return to full stock in late April/May 

    In six weeks' time, West Australians can again buy local bananas, with Carnarvon growers making a steady recovery back to full production after a severe cyclone destroyed plantations in March 2015.

     

    Twelve months on, Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston visited local growers to assess recovery efforts after gale-force winds and rain from Cyclone Olwyn almost wiped out the local plantations.

     

    "Carnarvon bananas are back in local stores, although in small quantities.  Supplies are expected to return to normal late April and May, so I remind consumers to be on the lookout for locally grown bananas so they can support their local growers," Mr Baston said.

     

    The Minister met members of the Sweeter Banana Co-operative, which is owned and operated by 25 farmers on family-run farms, and Desert Sweet Bananas.

     

    "Some plants could be salvaged but growers have replanted most of their plantations - a costly process which has taken longer than anticipated," he said.

     

    As an interim source of income, Sweeter Banana Co-operative produced and sold banana bread, enabling them to retain key staff.

     

    Mr Baston said it had been a challenging time for the region's fruit and vegetable growers as they recovered from the cyclone damage.

     

    "Carnarvon is an important supplier of fruit and vegetables to the local market and growers' ongoing recovery efforts mean consumers can continue to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce," he said.

     

    The Department of Agriculture and Food WA's Buy West Eat Best program works closely with the Gascoyne Food Council to profile Gascoyne produce.

     

    Desert Sweet Bananas and Sweeter Banana Co-operative are registered members of the program.

     

    Fact File

    • Carnarvon is the State's biggest banana-producing region, worth an average of about $10 million over the past three years, and valued at $12 million in 2014
    • Carnarvon's average annual fruit and vegetable production is valued at $80 million
    • The gross value of WA's agricultural production rose 0.2 per cent to $11.6 billion in 2014-15 

    Minister's office - 6552 5400