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Mozambique and Eswatini pick up on bananas as South Africa's bananas make way for citrus, avocados, macadamias

Mozambique’s climate and soil continuously attract banana producers to the country, many of them from South Africa.

Some large banana producers in Limpopo have completely exited the banana industry, taking out large tracts of bananas to replace with citrus, avocados or macadamias.

Most bananas on the South African wholesale markets currently come from Mozambique and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), with new producers from South Africa’s neighbour on the marketfloor, traders remark.

Over half of the bananas on the Johannesburg municipal market are from Mozambique and the amount of South African bananas on the market reduce every year as banana plantations make way for avocado and macadamia. one trader reckons the ratio between Mozambican and South African bananas is approximately 60:40 at the moment.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Mozambique's banana production overtook South Africa's in 2012 and by 2019 Mozambique was producing almost 725,000 tonnes compared to 405,000 tonnes in South Africa.

There have been sufficient banana volumes, very stable volume-wise over past the two months, traders say, but the region is coming out of a cold winter which has led to higher volumes of medium-sized bananas.

As temperatures rise, production will pick up and there’ll be more large and extra large bananas.

“We’re a little bit late, usually we’d have more volumes than currently, but as a rule when temperatures increase, so do bananas.”

Demand slightly picked up as school re-open but the economy is a ceiling on banana price.

“We can see money is short,” notes a banana trader, “we can’t lift banana prices as much as usual.”

Banana prices are slightly higher than usual this time of the year by around 10 to 20%: R100 (5.76 euros) to R120 (6.9 euros) on medium, R150 – R160 on large and R180 (10.37 euros) to R200 (11.52 euros) on extra large bananas, but on selected bananas it can go as high as R220 (12.68 euros) per 18kg carton.

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