Plummeting prices have forced banana growers in south China's Hainan Province to feed the dried fruit to
A woman resident from Jiaochang Village in Tayang Town, Qionghai
City on the east coast of Hainan Province, said prices for bananas
were so low that feeding pigs and domestic fowl with bananas was
all they could do to avoid seeing the fruit rot in the fields.
On Monday, bananas were being bought for only 0.26 yuan a kilo
in the village, said the woman.
Gone are the days when businesspeople from Beijing and Shanghai
offering good prices would arrive just as the banana trees reached
harvest time, said another woman identified as Zhang in Fuxi
Village in Chengmai County, another key banana growing base in
"We sold our bananas for three yuan a kilo last year and we
didn't have to go out looking for buyers," said Zhang.
Zhang, from central China's Hunan Province, came to Hainan with her
husband with dreams of becoming rich. They sold their house in
their home town and took out a loan of 180,000 yuan, investing all
the money in growing bananas.
"Bananas are tender tropical fruit and when the temperature is
above 30 degrees Celsius ripe ones only last for about three days
before they start to rot," said Zhang. "My husband has to go out
before dawn every day to find a buyer."
The main cause of the banana price drama appears to be
over-supply. According to Xiao Jie, chief of the Hainan Provincial
Bureau of Agriculture, 50,000 hectares of banana trees were planted
across Hainan Island this year.
According to him, some 490,000 tons of bananas have been
transported out of Hainan since early April, a massive rise of
210,000 tons on the same period last year. In a classic case of
supply and demand, the glut of the fruit has depressed prices.
Hainan produces one sixth of the country's total banana
But locals said malicious text messages -- saying bananas
produced in Hainan might be unsafe because of the use of chemical
agents in processing and that there was a risk they might spread
the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus -- were another
factor in the banana price collapse.
Meng Xuru, director of the Hainan Provincial office for the
development of South Asian tropical crops, said the text messaging
had dealt a severe blow to locally produced bananas.
"There was a lot of text messaging in late April -- the very
moment when banana trees enter the harvest season. There was very
little of it on the island but it was rampant in major cities on
the Chinese mainland, where Hainan bananas are consumed," said the
Meng declined to give an exact figure regarding the economic
losses for Hainan.
Zhang Xiyan, China's chief banana expert, rubbished the notion
that bananas can contain SARS virus as ludicrous and
"These rumors have been created out of thin air. SARS is a human
disease that spreads from one person to another. It will never jump
to plants, just like human influenza can never spread to plants,"
(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)