IT is the news the banana industry did not want to hear: Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed the presence of Panama tropical race 4 (TR4) on a third Tully Valley farm.
The Australian Banana Growers’ Council issued a statement this afternoon saying it had been advised a vegetative compatibility group test (biological test) had “conclusively confirmed the presence of the disease in samples taken from the farm”.
Panama TR4 was first detected in the Tully Valley in March 2015.
The grower was issued a TR4 notice on January 23 after a suspect plant was found during routine Biosecurity Queensland surveillance.
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Since then, the grower has worked closely with BQ and successfully complied with all their requirements. They resumed trading on January 27, just four days after the notice was given.
Industry support needed
Katter’s Australia Party member for Hinchinbrook, Nick Dametto, said the confirmation had potentially devastating effects for the growers and workers in the area.
“I have spoken to Jim Pekin, CEO of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council who has told me there will be no supply or price impact regarding Australian bananas,” Mr Dametto said.
“Even so, swift action is required to restrict any spreading of the disease to protect the multi-million dollar banana industry and this includes the control of feral pigs
“We would all like to see the Government helping to ease the concerns of the industry with a swift response of support.
“If anyone has concerns or queries regarding the disease they can contact my office by phone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.’’
KAP Member for Hill Shane Knuth said supporting farmers deal with the issue should be the primary concern.
“Whatever help they need has to be quickly supplied,’’ he said.
“They have dealt with this issue before and are well equipped to provide the best advice on how to go forward.
Grower given praise
ABGC chair Stephen Lowe praised the grower for their ongoing efforts at this difficult time.
“Obviously the confirmation of Panama TR4 on a third North Queensland banana farm is disappointing for the industry, and particularly for the grower concerned,” he said.
“But we know our growers are incredibly resilient and willing to help each other out in tough times.
“We’ve been preparing for the challenge of Panama TR4 and I’d urge all growers to ensure they have effective biosecurity measures in place.”
The ABGC reminded growers that biosecurity measures such as footbaths and footwear exchanges, plus limiting vehicle movement and managing plant material can go a long way in the fight against TR4.
It urged those living in or travelling to the region to be mindful of quarantine areas and to stay out of all banana farms unless invited by the grower.
Mr Lowe also emphasised the fact that Panama TR4 has no impact on the fruit, nor does the industry expect any supply issues following this latest news.
“The best way you can show your support to Aussie growers is by continuing to buy bananas,” he said.