Ba­nana in­dus­try wilts un­der stu­pid­ity

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

THIS has to be the great­est bit of theatre ever from a govern­ment de­part­ment to keep sap­ping money out of the tax­payer. What is hap­pen­ing right in front of our eyes is un­be­liev­able.

At the cur­rent rate of an­ni­hi­la­tion, it will take 500 years to wipe out Aus­tralia’s en­tire ba­nana in­dus­try ( 13 plants ev­ery three years). There are big­ger prob­lems fac­ing this in­dus­try such as lit­i­ga­tion and im­ports.

I in­vested every­thing into this in­dus­try so I won’t sit back and watch it dis­ap­pear be­cause of the pro­to­cols set by peo­ple who have more de­grees than a ther­mome­ter – but no com­mon sense.

“Panama” is a nick­name. The real name is “Fusar­ium Wilt T4”. Ev­ery plant from an av­o­cado to a cu­cum­ber gets some form of wilt. All these other forms of wilt be­comes the farmer’s prob­lem, not the tax­payer’s.

The pro­pa­ganda com­ing out of the ivory tow­ers is un­be­liev­able. They say it stays in the soil for 100 years. Show me the spot where they came up with that.

Then they come up with ideas such as putting up a barbed wire fence to stop a virus. Rep­tiles, ro­dents, mar­su­pi­als, birds, pigs etc con­tinue to do their daily thing be­cause they couldn’t read all the signs ( imag­ine try­ing to get them to use the foot­wash when they move to the neigh­bour’s prop­erty).

This in­dus­try sur­vives on some­one else’s mis­for­tune to make a dol­lar.

That’s in­stead of putting money into find­ing new mar­kets, new prod­ucts, new plants and mech­a­ni­sa­tion. The sad fact is most of the farm­ers be­lieve in the ed­u­cated id­iots who still preach an­cient ways of farm­ing.

Heads should roll! Af­ter mil­lions of dol­lars of tax­payer and farm­ers’ money has been spent – it is ob­vi­ous the pro­to­cols set were never go­ing to work. If it wasn’t so se­ri­ous you would think it was a never- end­ing joke.

El­ders and Land­mark must be mak­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of money for their share­hold­ers be­cause of the many prod­ucts they are sell­ing as a re­sult of the pro­ce­dures set by the bu­reau­crats.

If this wilt is so bad then how is it that the coun­tries that al­ready have it are pro­duc­ing “dou­ble” per acre than what we do in Aus­tralia?

The an­swer is sim­ple. Kerosene. Spray the in­fected area pe­ri­od­i­cally over a six- month pe­riod, then burn it. But that’d be too sim­ple. I be­lieve that the peo­ple rap­ing this in­dus­try don’t want a cure.

If things don’t change quickly then this in­dus­try will dis­ap­pear just like so many oth­ers.

I still be­lieve there are hun­dreds of prod­ucts, be­sides the fruit it pro­duces, that can be made from the fi­brous plant. If the plant is left un­dam­aged, af­ter the bunch has been re­moved, then it makes the re­main­der of the plant a valu­able prod­uct.

There is no fi­bre that has the ca­pa­bil­i­ties like this one. It is never end­ing, fire­proof and very fast grow­ing.

The only thing the farm­ers must do to bring about this big change is to time their pad­docks into 100 days of har­vest­ing. A cut ev­ery 10 days av­er­ages out at 10 per cent each time they get har­vested. If the me­chan­i­cal har­vester can get 5 per cent of the bunches each time then it is vi­able.

The next time you look at a ba­nana plant think of it as a brick in a wall of a house that won’t burn.

There is a fu­ture – a good one. But this stu­pid­ity must stop now. TOM JOHN­STON,


BA­NANA RE­PUB­LIC: Ter­ri­ble and costly bu­reau­cratic de­ci­sions are de­stroy­ing the in­dus­try, says one out­raged farmer. Pic­ture: DE­PART­MENT OF AGRI­CUL­TURE AND FISH­ERIES

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