ABC Rural – Young Banana Farmer Turns to Banana Flour
Three years ago Robert Watkins’ love of innovation was driving him to find new and better ways to get his lady finger bananas to market.
He developed a prototype for a recyclable carton liner he affectionately dubbed the “banana blankey” and was well on the way to commercialising the product when he was awarded the ABC-Kondinin Group’s 2010 Australian Young Farmer of the Year.
“That was a fantastic concept, I think it was far ahead of its time to be honest,” he says.
“But that taught me a lot, a heck of a lot…. there was probably a lot of people in the middle having their say and not getting it right through to the point of sale.”
It was a realisation that ultimately led the Far North Queensland banana farmer-cum-entrepreneur to sell the family farm at Walkamin to embark on a new venture to turn bananas into flour.
“It’s a powder of such, which is a gluten free product, extremely high in resistant starch and very nutritious. It’s not new to the world, any of the banana flour products, Africans have eaten it for thousands of years in some countries.”
His plans include building a factory on the Atherton Tableland and adopting innovation that will improve efficiency and help to reduce labour costs.