Australia’s banana industry to be battered by Cyclone Yasi

Top Stories
Australia’s banana industry to be battered by Cyclone Yasi

Australia’s banana growers in north Queensland are in for difficult times, as state premier Anna Bligh announced Cyclone Yasi would be worse than Cyclone Larry which battered the region in 2006, local media reported.

Bligh said the cyclone was expected to hit the coast early Thursday morning with 250km/h (155 miles/h) winds, newspaper The Australian reported.

But the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) later upgraded the cyclone to category five, with expected winds of 280km/h (173 miles/h).

In a warning statement BOM said the impact of the cyclone is "likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations".

"Yasi is a large and very powerful tropical cyclone and poses an extremely serious threat to life and property within the warning area, especially between Port Douglas and Townsville," the warning said.

The Australian said that forced evacuations were taking place in the low-lying parts of Cairns, with gale force winds expected to ‘terrorise’ the city for 10 hours before and after the cyclone hits the coastline.

Cassowary Coast Banana Growers Association president Mark Nucifora told media outlet ABC that farmers in Innisfail were desperately preparing for the cyclone.

“They're trying to pack as much commercial grade fruit as possible, so that we can have some fruit down there, so that if this cyclone does come in at least we'll have some money coming in after the cyclone, and that's about all we can do,” he was quoted as saying.

“There's not much else. We've gone through and strung the farm, but strings aren't going to stand up to this thing. It's going to wipe everything out."

The Cairns Post reported the banana industry had already experienced a poor financial year, citing comments from Nucifora that if the situation ‘keeps going like this’ then a lot more people will leave the industry.

“If we get another blow like Larry then I think that will just be the nail in the coffin for us,” Nucifora told the Cairns Post.

“I think everyone is worried financially at the moment with the current circumstances of supply and demand, let alone with the threat of these cyclones.

“All you can do is try to cyclone-proof your farm houses and sheds, tie some strings to your crop, pick as much as you can and the rest is in God’s hands.”

Newspaper Sydney Morning Herald reported banana picking would continue on Tuesday, which means banana supplies will likely remain stable for two weeks.

Photo: Flickr, Melalouise


Subscribe to our newsletter