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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tenerife Plays Its Part In Another Space First

The European Space Agency announced another SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology) achievement: the successful testing of a laser communication link experiment with its optical ground station in Tenerife, Canary Islands in February.

This laser technology, in which Europe is a leader, has already been applied to telecommunications satellites, but this was the first time a laser link had been used to communicate with a distant, rapidly moving spacecraft. More via: European Space Agency

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bananas Don't Grow On Trees

Bananas aren't grown above a certain height either (300 meters), so there are no banana plantations up here in the valley, but my landlady has a plantation on the coast below Buenavista. Before I moved here, I lived in a house inside a plantation. If you like mega dust and plagues of flies, I would highly recommend it!

The Canary Islands have long been known for their small, sweet, curved (Cavendish Dwarf) bananas that are full of flavour. Of course the EEC wants us to grow longer, straighter ones, for what reason, I shall never know, because it is certainly at the detriment of that famous taste.

What you may not know is that the banana, which is the fifth most important food in the basic diet globally, is NOT native to the islands and was originally introduced during the years of the conquest (15th Century) by Portugese from Guinea. It is said that a Friar later took the banana from the Canaries to America (Santa Domingo) in 1516.

It takes about 14 months to grow bananas. They like a constant temperature of around 25 C, with good light, sandy, acid soil and LOTS of water. And the banana is a PLANT and NOT a tree.

Banana production provides the Canary Islands' second most important source of income (after tourism), supporting some 35,000 people and grossing over 180 million Euros annually.

In 1999 there were 8,922 hectares of land being cultivated for bananas in the Canary Islands as a whole, 4,141 of those in Tenerife, which is the island with the largest production. The cost of production oscillated between 36 and 42 cents per kilo, depending on island.

In 2000, 405,000 tons of bananas were produced in the Canaries for which the islands received 16,000 million pesetas (96 million Euros) in European aid. In other words, producers receive aid to the tune of 24 cents per kilo of fruit, or 12,000 Euros for each hectare of cultivation.

Ninety percent of the banana crops are produced for export, impulsed predominantly from the 1880's by the British company Fyffes Ltd, who became one of the principal producers and exporters on the island.

Some information provided by teninfo.com and mgar.net.
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