Peasley takes up bunchy top fight

Peasley takes up bunchy top fight in bananas

Horticulture
ROLE: Well-known banana-advocate, David Peasley, is the newly appointed project manager of the National Banana Bunchy Top Virus project.

ROLE: Well-known banana-advocate, David Peasley, is the newly appointed project manager of the National Banana Bunchy Top Virus project.

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A new project will aim to restrict the spread of bunchy top virus in bananas.

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THE man appointed to lead a new project against the devastating banana disease, bunchy top, says he has "unfinished business" with the virus.

The Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC) announced the National Banana Bunchy Top Virus project this week.

Well-known banana-advocate, David Peasley, was appointed the project manager which is funded by a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Banana Fund.

Mr Peasley has extensive history in the industry, including leading earlier bunchy top projects.

"This is unfinished business for me," he said.

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"I hope to achieve more effective control of this devastating viral disease by working closely with growers in a joint effort with the detection team to help growers recognise symptoms of bunchy top in their plantations."

Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) has been present in Australia for more than a century but successfully contained to southeast Queensland and northern NSW.

Affected plants very rarely produce fruit and researchers have estimated the benefit of containment at $15.9-27.0 million in annual losses for the Australian banana industry.

STALLED: Banana plants affected with bunchy top very rarely produce fruit.

STALLED: Banana plants affected with bunchy top very rarely produce fruit.

The project aims to prevent bunchy top from spreading outside the area where it currently occurs and reduce infections on commercial banana farms within these areas.

The project will use a system of surveillance and control activities, as well as a grower education and training component and will garner the support from both NSW and Queensland biosecurity agencies.

A community engagement program using popular gardening programs is also being planned to create public awareness of the risk of spread from backyards to commercial plantations.

Mr Peasley and ABGC chief executive officer, Jim Pekin, attended the Tweed Banana Growers' Association meeting this week to provide an insight into future management of bunchy top, discuss new research findings and answer any questions.

"It was a great chance to speak with growers and provide outline of what we hope to achieve if we all work together," Mr Peasley said.

"I have some practical aids to help both commercial and non-commercial growers identify the symptoms of Bunchy Top, how to stop it spreading within their plantation and prevent it from moving outside the infection zone.

"It's important for growers to learn how to detect Bunchy Top and destroy infected plants."

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