Backpackers in step with biosecurity

With backpackers being a mainstay of the banana industry workforce, Innisfail hostel manager Nick Pervan has taken immediate action to make sure farm workers know biosecurity is everyone’s job.

Nick, from the Backpackers Shack, wrote his own notice to farm workers to ensure they understood the importance of taking action on TR4.

“We all need to pull our weight and help protect the banana industry,” Nick told his workers. “This is not a joke and is to be taken seriously.”

Nick is one of the North Queensland hostel operators who has begun working on footwear protocols with the banana farms where backpackers are employed.

In new measures being introduced on farms, backpackers have separate sets of footwear for off and on the farm.

Nick has asked backpackers to wear thongs to and from farms and wash down the soles using pump pack sanitising sprays in line with ‘come clean, leave clean’ recommendations . Their work footwear is kept on-farm for use in the paddock or packing shed.

“All the backpackers understand the importance of biosecurity and they know it is now a part of everyday work on a banana farm,” Mr Pervan said.

“I’m finding that everyone is keen to play their part.”

He said the clean floor inside the minibus taking backpackers to and from work shows the message is already working. Before the biosecurity efforts stepped up, it would be common to see soil left behind from footwear worn off banana farms.

“The news about TR4 has been a real shock to everyone in the community – there are so many businesses reliant on bananas that we all have to do everything we can to support growers,” Nick said.