FOLLOW-UP sample tests have confirmed the presence of Panama TR4 on a commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley.
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, who was in Melbourne for the Agriculture Minister’s Forum AGMIN, said he had been advised that a vegetative compatibility group test provided a final and conclusive result.
“The Palaszczuk Government understands the impact this positive result for Panama disease tropical race four will have on the producer involved, the industry and more broadly the community whose lives are intrinsically connected to the industry.” he said.
“Biosecurity Queensland will ensure that the affected business can continue to operate as seamlessly as possible while we minimise the risk to the rest of the industry.”
The Minister said the property owners were co-operating fully with the department.
“The owners had already established high standards of biosecurity on their farm, and have shown a professional and proactive approach to management of the disease.
“The effectiveness of the biosecurity measures implemented to date is supported by the knowledge that the latest detection is in close proximity to the first infected property, and not in a new production area,” he said.
“Thanks to the hard work of government and industry, we have had over two and a half years where we have only had one confirmed infested property.
“We must continue to work together to limit the spread by ensuring the Australian banana industry, with the support of the Queensland Government, implements world’s best practice biosecurity to manage this disease.”
Minister Byrne said Biosecurity Queensland staff would continue to monitor on-farm activity and assist the property owners to contain the incursion.
“Staff will continue fortnightly surveillance on the affected property to ensure any spread of the disease is detected early and controlled.
“Tracing investigations are also under way to try and determine the source of the infestation, and surveillance is occurring on other properties that are linked to the affected property by ownership and shared machinery.
“Authorised officers are checking fruit consignments to ensure soil and plant material is not being moved off the affected farm.”
The Minister assured growers that the State Government would continue to support the industry.
“The banana industry is the cornerstone of Far North Queensland’s economy and one of the region’s biggest employers. This latest detection does not mean game over, rather it reinforces our ongoing commitment to control and containment of the disease,” he said.
“We see a strong, vibrant industry, community and region into the future.”
Panama disease tropical race four is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. The fungus only affects the health of the plant and its ability to produce fruit.
Bananas are still good to eat and remain a hugely popular fruit choice in Australia.
“When the disease was first identified in Tully in 2015, people very quickly got the message that the best way they could support this important Queensland industry was to continue to buy and enjoy bananas.
“I am urging consumers to follow their own example from then.
“Thanks to the education program undertaken by the government and the growers, the industry has much stronger biosecurity practices now than in 2015,” he said.
If you suspect Panama disease in your plants, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. To find out more about Panama disease tropical race four visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.