First bananas grown on New Zealand plantation

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First bananas grown on New Zealand plantation

Bananas are now being grown on a commercial plantation on New Zealand's North Island, as part of a joint venture between Tai Pukenga Ltd and AgResearch. 

The aim is to expand bananas farms right across the east coast, according to publication Maori Television.

New Zealanders eat more bananas per person than almost anywhere else in the world and now the farm in Gisborne has a slice of the banana market.

"New Zealand imports over $220 million dollars worth of bananas every year from Ecuador, Mexico and the Philipines. Import substitution is probably a good thing for our economy at this stage," Trevor Mills, banana project manager for Tai Pukenga, was quoted as saying.

"Why can't we grow our own, sell our own and keep all that money within our communities?"

The plantation here is naturally grown, with future plans to produce as many plants as possible by growing them in labs at Massey University in Palmerston North, the article reported.

"There'd be increased employment on the scientific side we'd very much like - once our tissue culture methods are established - to get people on the Tairāwhiti trained up to do that work, also the planting, the maintenance and the harvesting," says Mills.

Gisborne's location and the wider coastline of the east coast with its close proximity to the sea make it the perfect climate for a burgeoning banana industry.

"A hectare of bananas, you'll have about 1,000 plants. If you have a 10kg bunch per plant it's a minimum base rate of $30 per bunch you're looking at $30,000 return after two years that is very competitive against the likes of citrus, grapes and avocados and any other horticulture crops we have here at the moment," he was quoted as saying.

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