In a boost for North Queensland, banana growers will be allowed to sell fruit from plants pushed over by Cyclone Yasi.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin said Biosecurity Queensland had negotiated ongoing market access arrangements that would allow North Queensland banana growers to certify fruit harvested from fallen plants.
“Growers will now have an additional two week supply of bananas which they can sell,” Mr Mulherin said.
“This arrangement is a great outcome for both growers and consumers.
“It will enable growers to retrieve fruit that is still in a mature green condition destined for interstate market access.
“I have seen for myself the many bunches of mature bananas on the ground following blow down of banana plants.
“Many of these windfall bunches should be suitable for marketing and consumption,” the Minister said.
“Rather than let them go to waste, we are waiving the annual accreditation fee for eligible businesses to start using certification that allows them to sell their fruit based on these circumstances, accreditation which they may have not had prior to the cyclone.
“There are many benefits which will come from this arrangement.
“This measure will assist in the long-term economic recovery of these growers.
“Australian consumers will also benefit as there will be an increased supply in the marketplace, which should also assist in keeping banana prices down.
“Growers have until 17 February to collect bananas under this arrangement,” the Minister said.
To be eligible for this arrangement, banana growers within the Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council need to complete the application form for accreditation under the ICA-16 arrangement and submit this to their local biosecurity officer for processing.
For the application form to be emailed or sent out, or for any other queries relating to eligibility, contact the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.
To maintain interstate market confidence in our produce, random inspections will still need to be carried out on packing sheds and transporters.
The Minister said as 80 per cent of Australia’s bananas come from far north Queensland, it was important to maintain our high standards despite the setbacks experienced at the present time.