Andrie Knipe, chairperson of the Banana Growers’ Association of SA, said, “Over 2010 we had major damage from hailstorms and strong winds, and the drought conditions also negatively impacted our banana yields. But this yield drop did help push up local banana prices.”The industry’s hoping to see the overall yield 15% up in 2011, but this could be hampered by increasing cases of attacks by the banana weevil borer and by the spread of Panama disease in national banana plantations. Knipe attributed these to weather conditions.
“We currently have 12 000ha of bananas in South Africa. Unfortunately, 30% of these are old and need replanting, which is very expensive,” he added. “Mozambique’s banana plantations are mostly new, and so are highly productive. “Another concern for us is that our banana farmers are increasingly converting their plantations to macadamia orchards, because the labour costs of growing bananas are far more prohibitive than for macadamia production.”