Storm devastates banana farms

Banana farmer Rupinder Bhangal and son Burinder inspect the damage the severe thunderstorm did to the farm's crop.
Banana farmer Rupinder Bhangal and son Burinder inspect the damage the severe thunderstorm did to the farm's crop. TREVOR VEALE

AN area that is often referred to as the Bananacoast is counting the cost of Sunday night's massive storm that hit the Coffs Coast.

Banana farmers across Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga woke early this morning to find plants uprooted by gusts of winds that reached 100km, crops destroyed by hail stones the size of golf balls and land slips caused by the 47.2mm of rain that fell in little more than half an hour.

The family farm owned by the Bhangals at the north end of Mackays Rd believes it's lost 1,600 to 1,700 Cavendish bananas.

On top of that, the price the family will get for its Lady Finger bananas will be severely reduced due to the evident hail damage on the fruit.

"There's probably $50,000 worth of damage," Gurinder Bhangal said.

The bananas on the farm were due to be cut down and packed this week. Now all the family who've been on the farm for 25 years face is a month of hard work to clean up the damage and start again.

"This has put us behind about two years," Mr Bhangal said.

The Bhangals also wasted $15,000 on 10 tons of fertiliser that it used on the crop on Sunday.

"The storm wasn't forecast, it just said possible showers or storms," Mr Bhangal said.

"That's all ended up in the creek so it's $15,000 washed away."

The storm damage comes on top of what has already been a difficult period for local primary producers battling to earn a good price from their product while Coles supermarket is selling at severely reduced prices.

Mr Bhangal said that the supermarket chain was making it hard for farmers in the area to make the same sort of profit that has been enjoyed in the past.

"Whatever Coles do means we're still not making anything at the moment," he said.

"We're lucky to make a 50 cent profit on a carton and that's without labour."

Topics:  banana coffs storm

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