Following a severe shortage and price surges in the Australian banana market just two years ago in the wake of Cyclone Larry, banana growers are today throwing away up to 60 per cent of their crop. Boom harvests in the Queensland towns of Innisfail and Tully have flooded the market, with half a million cartons of fruit being delivered to the major markets weekly.
Mareeba grower Dennis Rigato says that size has represented the biggest hurdle to growers selling all their fruit, with consumers steering clear of the larger bananas. Truckloads full of fruit longer than 26cm are being dumped.
‘Customers don’t seem to want to buy the big long banana, and one of the chain stores has said we have to bring the length back to 260mm to try to get them to sell, and that’s compounded the situation,’ Rigato said. ‘We’ve got bananas at least 300mm long, and we’re throwing away two, three or four hands on the top of bunches.’
Also from Australia comes news of the first utilization of banana-farming waste in the production of bio-fuels. A commercial plant is being developed by Growcom, a leading Australian horticulture association, which will transform waste into biomethane – used to power vehicles using natural gas.
The on-farm system will be developed in a manner that allows for easy use and integration within existing farm practices, aiming for the digesters to contribute to farm efficiency.