Banana shortage shows need for local produce on Bermuda

Home Affairs minister Walter Roban has stated that more food must be grown on the island, in an attempt to combat problems with international supply chains. His warning came after it was confirmed that a shipment of bananas was destroyed in April because it was riddled with mealybug pests.

He said: “Given the ongoing challenges to global supply chains, Bermuda must increase its local food production as much as possible. Mealybugs present a significant risk to many of the crops grown on island at a time we need to produce as much as possible.”

A government spokesman said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources found the bugs in a shipment of bananas inspected at the Government Agricultural Services Centre.

Roban added: “The shipment failed inspection due to an extremely high level of viable mealybug, found in all life stages, and was subsequently destroyed.”

Carlos Amaral, the president of the Bermuda Farmers’ Association, said that banana trees on the island were doing well, but: “They’re not at the harvesting stage as of yet. It will be a least a couple of months or so before we start seeing any volume.”

He said that some island growers had turned banana patches over to vegetable crops in previous years because they did not believe it was cost-effective to compete with imported fruit. The pest problem became apparent to the DENR in November 2018 when many bunches of bananas brought to the island were found to be infested with scale and mealybug.

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