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"Yellow gold" back on Aussie menu

(Xinhua)

17:17, September 26, 2011

SYDNEY, Sep. 26 (Xinhua) -- Australians love their bananas. But that love affair with the "yellow gold" from the tropical state of Queensland has been a tormented one after the banana industry was ravaged by Yasi, the "cyclone of the century" earlier this year.

Prices skyrocketed this year and with Australia's strict quarantine regulations prohibiting imports the few bananas that made it to the shelves were being sold at a record 16 Australian dollars (15.6 U.S. dollars) a kilo at the height of the shortage in July, but according to Jamie O' Brien, spokesman for the industry's peak body, bananas will soon be back on the menu.

"It's been a tough time for everybody, but bananas are back," he told Xinhua.

Growers across Far North Queensland were the worst affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasi which hit the north Queensland coast on February 2 and ravaged the coastal and inner tableland regions, contributing to the worst floods in Queensland for almost 100 years and causing 35 deaths.

Bananas have been a staple of the Australian diet, particularly with the summer season soon to arrive, but families have had to go without after more than 75 percent of the national industry was decimated when Cyclone Yasi, and Queensland's torrential floods destroyed all of Australia's major supply crops.

Yasi took out the entire banana crops in the peak growing areas of Innisfail and Cardwell when it struck in early February. It leveled 95 percent of major production in Tully, 10 percent on the Atherton Tablelands and production was completely shut down at Kennedy, all household names when it comes to the Australian romance with bananas.

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