More bananas for N.Z. market

The Banana Growers Association is on the move.

This week, members of the Association worked to fill two containers of about 500-600 bananas for the fifth shipment to be sent to the New Zealand banana market.

With the first four containers since last year filled by three main farmers in Taimalei Charlie Westerlund, Ututa’aloga Charlie Ulia and the Banana Growers Association President, Tuisuga Sofara Aveau, this time the opportunity was extended to 34 other members to contribute.

The Association so far as more than 86 registered members.

Tuisuga said the long-term goal is for everyone to contribute towards filling the containers for export.

But there are strict conditions that must be met for the New Zealand market.

 “The harvest must be taken good care of,” Tuisuga said, adding that there are a lot of stringent checks to ensure the exported bananas pass quarantine standards.

 “We do not accept any bananas that are infected, diseased or ripe. We even have a particular bag that protects the bananas from contact and insects,” Tuisaga said.

Crops are bought in and are processed. Upon arrival bananas are assessed by their quality and for any possible disease. Then it is given a thorough rinse and reviewed by quarantine officials.

After that, they are dried and boxed for shipping.

“Farmers benefit a lot from it,” Tuisuga said.

In the meantime, Tuisuga has urged local farmers to invest in the growing association.

“The association has so many benefits and we encourage local farmers to register, learn new skills on how to properly harvest and cultivate plantations.”

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