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  • Writer's pictureStacey King

Banaba: The island Australia Ate

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

This is the title of the recent podcast broadcast on Australia's ABC Radio National by Alice Moldovan. It's a concept that we have not thought about before but Alice's take on the tragic history of Banaba is spot on. It might sound a bit hard to believe but by the early part of the 20th century, Australia's agricultural production had rapidly increased well beyond the needs of the Australian population. This increased production led to the country becoming one of the world's major food exporters. One of the important components of this success depended on the subsided use of super-phosphate fertilisers derived from the rich phosphate rock deposits from the Banaban’s tiny equatorial island. The discovery of phosphate rock on Banaba in 1900 had revolutionised the Australian fertilser industry. Over 20 million tons of

the Island’s soil containing the crushed bones of Banaban ancestors would be removed and scattered over Australian farmlands.

So yes, tragically this is correct - we did eat Banaba; the island and the remains of the very people themselves.

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