At ten for a dollar, bananas are probably the cheapest source of important nutrients. But we should probably say they used to be 10 for a dollar, because recently it's been closer to four for a dollar.

Yesterday, we asked the Minister of Agriculture about the reason for the increase in prices:

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"It's not that there is a shortage, it is the cost of acquiring the banana, of going to look for it and taking it to the ripening house and distributing it. That cost has gone up. What we eat locally are bananas that do not make it to the export market. Now, those who want to buy banana to sell on the local market go and they have to physically select that banana, pack it up and then bring it to the ripening houses."

Jules Vasquez
"Which they get for free though."

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"They get for free. They are saying that the process of going to do that taking their people to select the bananas, packing it in a truck, taking it to a ripening house, distributing it has become expensive and so they say they will pass on it."

"Will there come a time, a month, in a few weeks where there won't be bananas on the market?"

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"No, there will be bananas on the market. The price is another matter and so that is a great concern to everybody. My staff is working day and night to see how we can solve this problem. It's not an easy fix. Some had said to me, banana is dead and I am still optimistic that we can do something to bring it back."

And while that is a problem with local banana distribution, this important export industry is also facing a deeper crisis. Production this year is expected to be down by between 600 thousand to a million boxes fewer than projected.

The Minister discussed the crisis:

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"I had 3 meetings with the banana people and they are going through very difficult times and if you didn't know this, I will also inform you that banana is highly dependent on fertilizers and the cost of fertilizer has gone up by 300% in the last year. So last year some producers were unable to fertilize the field. This has cost production to take a dive."

"Secondly, climate change has affected the banana industry tremendously. The change in rainfall pattern, the change in wind currents have cause the banana plantations to come under heavy attack of the Sigatoka. Sigatoka is a disease that affects the leaves and de-leafing has to occur to avoid further spread of the disease. When you remove the leaves, you stay with 3 functional leaves. Any banana plant that has 3 functional leaves, the fruit on that plant will not be able to export, because it ripens on the voyage and so we have high amount of bananas that cannot be exported that has to be sold locally."

Channel 7