Banana growers get $2.5m boost

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Banana growers get $2.5m boost
Camera IconBanana growers get $2.5m boost Credit: The West Australian

Carnarvon banana growers knocked flat by cyclone Olwyn will have a $2.5 million payout from their industry fund to help get them back on their feet.

It is the biggest payout in the history of the Carnarvon Banana Industry Fund, which has operated since the 1960s and provides a safety net for grower members.

Fund chairman Bruce Munro said the fund was one of a kind and the envy of growers in the Eastern States.

"What we do is for every box of bananas we send, we put 20� into the fund," he said. "We have been doing it for a very long time.

"The fund is going to pay out about $2.5 million and the value of the crop last year - and it would probably have been similar this year - was about $9 million. It is not full insurance but it's a hell of a lot more than all of the other growers get.

"I'm pretty sure all the Carnarvon banana growers are members and there are 48."

The fund, administered by the Agricultural Produce Commission, had about $5 million in reserve before cyclone Olwyn wiped out all of Carnarvon's banana plantations this month. Growers are paid out in proportion with their contribution to the fund.

"The fund was first put together by some very foresighted growers and that was after the only other major cyclone like this one where there was 100 per cent wiped out," Mr Munro said. "We have had others where the losses have been 50 or 60 per cent."

At the time the cyclone hit, the growers were finalising a claim on the fund for losses caused by a heat wave in January. They have also battled floods and water shortages in recent years.

It will take up to 18 months before they can harvest any replanted plantations. They will cut back some damaged plants in the hope they can harvest some smaller fruit in about 10 months given solid rainfall this winter.

Mr Munro, who is also on the board of the Sweeter Bananas Co-operative, made up of about half the growers, said they were determined to bounce back.

"I can speak for Sweeter Bananas and just about all of the growers are committed to getting stuck in, replanting and getting the industry back up and running as soon as possible," he said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails