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Banana boon signals end to Elders forestry foray

Charlie McKillop, Monday May 13, 2013 - 18:07 EST
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Another 250 hectares of bananas will be planted at Lakeland as the industry continues to diversify beyond the coastal strip between Cairns and Cardwell. - ABC

Australia's largest banana grower may have driven the final nail into the coffin of Elders' failed foray into timber managed investment schemes (MIS) in Queensland.

Mackay Bananas has purchased 3,200 hectares in far north Queensland for $10 million, significantly less than the $16 million paid by Elders only five years ago at the height of the MIS land grab.

Director Cameron Mackay says it's a strategic acquisition as the banana industry continues to expand beyond its cyclone-prone heartland.

"Back at the time it was probably a bit out of our league, the money that was getting chucked around for those MIS schemes was well above what anyone's expectations were, but in saying that, it's good down the track to be able to secure the property."

Mackay has already started planting 250 hectares of bananas on the former teak plantations at Lakeland, near Cooktown, to compliment the 1,000 hectares grown on the Cassowary Coast, near Tully.

"It's long-term for us up there, it's just part of our banana business. After going through the two cyclones, Larry and Yasi, so close together we needed to get a bit more diversity into our business, just moving out of the area into what we believe is another very good area to grow bananas."

Elders was not available for comment.


© ABC 2013

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