Your Australian Banana Grower’s Council

ABGC Chief Executive Officer Jim Pekin reports on the work of the banana industry’s peak body.

Occasionally growers ask “what does ABGC do? ”The two-second answer is “ABGC is the national banana industry development organisation”.

We provide a range of banana-specific services to growers. ABGC provides leadership on all significant banana issues and runs several R&D projects – we currently have eight contracted projects.

What are ABGC’s objectives?

• Lead the banana industry’s responses to critical issues and events. This includes the response to Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) and its management. This also includes the response to import applications, Banana Freckle, and cyclones • Influence Government (Commonwealth, State and Local) decisions regarding the banana industry • Communicate banana industry issues to growers and other stakeholders • Deliver projects and strategies to improve profitability and reduce growers’ costs while maintaining the industry’s environmental credentials • Deliver best practice TR4 extension advice to all NQ growers • Ensure value for money for growers’ levy investment in marketing and research and development • Coordinate TR4 research • Coordinate a practical banana industry biosecurity strategy • Develop a leading edge environmental strategy • Plan and deliver the biennial Banana Industry Congress • Deliver services to ABGC members that meet their expectations • Ensure the operation of ABGC is effective and accountable to all members.

What did ABGC do in 2015?

2015 was both a challenging and a productive year for ABGC. ABGC provided leadership to the management of Panama TR4.That eventuated in four new R&D projects on TR4, worth $7million: • Biosecurity and sustainable solutions – led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) • TR4 Research Program – led by DAF • TR4 Biosecurity extension – led by ABGC • Coordination of TR4 R&D – led by ABGC. ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland developed standards and guidelines and a Response Plan for containing TR4. ABGC also helped our members affected by TR4 through a voluntary levy. TR4 wasn’t the only exotic incursion we dealt with. We provided leadership and influenced decisions so the National Banana Freckle Eradication Program can eradicate Cavendish-affecting Banana Freckle from Australia. This was the first significant use of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. We put in place a levy to fund that Response. Another main event for 2015 was the development of Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) to administer grower R&D and marketing investment’s supported the transition to Hort Innovation from Horticulture Australia Ltd, despite several teething problems. Importantly ABGC achieved a banana marketing advisory panel and a banana R&D advisory panel for our banana levies. ABGC planned and ran a very successful Congress in Melbourne in 2015. The ABGC Chair is on the Board of the Voice of Horticulture, the national horticultural advocacy group that was formed in 2015. It is progressing the top six issues on behalf of growers.

Other work in 2015:

• Developed and circulated banana information in e-bulletins, newsletters and the Australian Bananas magazine • Made a submission on Import Risk Analysis • Commenced development of a biosecurity strategy and an environmental strategy • Worked on new Queensland biosecurity regulations • Developed and delivered best practice TR4 extension advice • Coordinated banana R&D • Delivered yellow Sigatoka and TR4 surveillance and industry liaison • Delivered a Banana Bunchy Top Virus project • Delivered Reef Rescue grants and extension • Commenced work on an app to ensure more uptake of Banana Best Management Practice (BMP) • Supported the Exotic Fruit Fly Response Plan.