'Commercial banana industry is 'absolutely' viable here' - experts

Govt departments invest $125,000 in Tairawhiti plantations

Govt departments invest $125,000 in Tairawhiti plantations

BANANA TEAM: The experts came to town this week to look over the fledging banana industry in Tairawhiti and believe it will be viable. The group were photographed at the first commercial banana plantation at Ormond. (From left) Kevin Brockhurst (grower), Trevor Mills (banana project manager Tai Pukenga), Dr Jane Mullaney, Dr Wajid Hussain, Anna Larking, Dr Andrew Griffiths (all AgResearch NZ) and Rodger Bodle (technical advisor Tai Pukenga). Picture supplied
The AgResearchers collected banana plant samples from various growers while they were here. AgResearch will investigate the DNA of the plants to see what varieties there are here, and also see how those varieties have changed naturally over time as they have been cultivated.

A TEAM from AgResearch in Palmerston North spent two days this week getting a first hand look at what’s proposed with the development of commercial banana plantations in the district. The experts believe a commercial banana industry is “absolutely” viable here.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has provided more than $93,000 to assist with development of the plantations, and the first has been established at Ormond.

The Vision Matauranga Capability Fund grant supports a joint venture project between AgResearch and Tai Pukenga Limited of Manutuke. AgResearch has also invested in the project to the tune of $32,000. The AgResearch team headed by Dr Jane Mullaney met with Tai Pukenga Ltd on Tuesday to formulate the project’s work programme for the next two years.

They visited banana growing sites around the Gisborne area on Wednesday and met growers, among them local banana “guru” Rodger Bodle.

“We have learnt a lot during our visit,” Dr Mullaney said. “The locals understand the climate and what they are working with, and have been producing bananas on a small scale for years.

“We are going to help them with tissue culture methods, which involves the propagation of a lot of plants from a single sucker, and we will teach the Tai Pukenga team how they can do that here in Gisborne,” she said.

The AgResearchers collected banana plant samples from various growers while they were here.

“We will investigate the DNA of them to see what varieties there are here, and also see how those varieties have changed naturally over time as they have been cultivated.”

Dr Mullaney said she and her team believe a commercial banana industry in Tairawhiti was viable.

“We believe it is absolutely achievable. We believe it always has been.”

The other members of her team were Dr Wajid Hussain from the AgResearch Plant Functional Biology team and Dr Andrew Griffiths from the AgResearch Forage Genetics team.

Banana Projects Manager for Tai Pukenga Limited, Trevor Mills said the visit was an outstanding success.

“It gave the scientists a really good idea of what we plan to do.”

Tai Pukenga’s vision for the banana industry aims to have fruit widely available from 2020, provided in schools and supplied through the Farmers Market.

A TEAM from AgResearch in Palmerston North spent two days this week getting a first hand look at what’s proposed with the development of commercial banana plantations in the district. The experts believe a commercial banana industry is “absolutely” viable here.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has provided more than $93,000 to assist with development of the plantations, and the first has been established at Ormond.

The Vision Matauranga Capability Fund grant supports a joint venture project between AgResearch and Tai Pukenga Limited of Manutuke. AgResearch has also invested in the project to the tune of $32,000. The AgResearch team headed by Dr Jane Mullaney met with Tai Pukenga Ltd on Tuesday to formulate the project’s work programme for the next two years.

They visited banana growing sites around the Gisborne area on Wednesday and met growers, among them local banana “guru” Rodger Bodle.

“We have learnt a lot during our visit,” Dr Mullaney said. “The locals understand the climate and what they are working with, and have been producing bananas on a small scale for years.

“We are going to help them with tissue culture methods, which involves the propagation of a lot of plants from a single sucker, and we will teach the Tai Pukenga team how they can do that here in Gisborne,” she said.

The AgResearchers collected banana plant samples from various growers while they were here.

“We will investigate the DNA of them to see what varieties there are here, and also see how those varieties have changed naturally over time as they have been cultivated.”

Dr Mullaney said she and her team believe a commercial banana industry in Tairawhiti was viable.

“We believe it is absolutely achievable. We believe it always has been.”

The other members of her team were Dr Wajid Hussain from the AgResearch Plant Functional Biology team and Dr Andrew Griffiths from the AgResearch Forage Genetics team.

Banana Projects Manager for Tai Pukenga Limited, Trevor Mills said the visit was an outstanding success.

“It gave the scientists a really good idea of what we plan to do.”

Tai Pukenga’s vision for the banana industry aims to have fruit widely available from 2020, provided in schools and supplied through the Farmers Market.

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