TR4 fight gets future funded​

Qld govt backs banana disease program

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The Qld Govt will fund further Panama TR4 combat with industry's help.

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THE Queensland Government has backed the fight against the banana disease, Panama Tropical Race 4 to the tune of almost $12.1 million over five years.

But growers will have to lift their weight as well.

A recent independent review of the Panama TR4 Program confirmed the importance of tackling the disease in partnership with industry. 

The government will continue to fund the existing TR4 management Program until June 30, 2019 but from July 1 onwards, government funding for the program would only continue under a cost-sharing arrangement with industry.

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Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner said the review stated the program should continue but must be based on shared responsibility between government and industry. .

"For almost four years, we have been very successful in containing the disease to just three adjoining farms," Mr Furner said. 

"A major factor in that success has been the joint approach taken by government, industry, growers, and other key stakeholders.

"Biosecurity Queensland is establishing a working group with the Australian Banana Growers' Council to progress the development of a first-of-its-kind partnership agreement to fund, deliver, design and govern the Panama TR4 Program in Queensland."

Mr Furner said the agreement will give industry an opportunity to shape its future.

"By having a seat at the table, industry can share the decisions on how Panama TR4 is contained and controlled in Far North Queensland," he said.

No other country with Panama TR4 has had the same success in containing the disease as we have here in North Queensland. - Stephen Lowe, chair, ABGC

In a statement, the ABGC said it was ready to maintain the fight against the crop-crippling disease.

Since the first detection of TR4 in the Tully Valley in March 2015, there have been just two other farms detected with the disease.

The industry purchase - via a national levy and ABGC funds - of the first infected farm and subsequent shutdown of all operations on it also contributed significantly to the containment.

ABGC chair, Stephen Lowe, said the organisation believes the TR4 Program is well worth investing in into the future.

"The efforts of industry, government, community and researchers in minimising the spread of this potentially devastating disease have been world class," Mr Lowe said.

"No other country with Panama TR4 has had the same success in containing the disease as we have here in North Queensland.

"But the reality is that Panama TR4 is here to stay and it will eventually spread. Therefore planning for the future is critical.

The ABGC has also begun consulting banana growers nationally to gain feedback on the new partnership arrangement, particularly how industry will fund its share.

Mr Lowe emphasised that while Panama TR4 was contained to a relatively small area in Far North Queensland for now, slowing the inevitable spread is beneficial for the banana industry as a whole.

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