Growers urged to continue strict on-farm biosecurity practices

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council has urged North Queensland banana growers to continue to carry out their strict on-farm biosecurity procedures, to protect against further outbreak of Panama Tropical Race 4.

It has been 18 months since TR4 was first detected on a property in Tully and while the ABGC is relieved the disease has so far managed to be contained to the one site, it has warned growers not to become complacent by relaxing their biosecurity processes.

“Since Panama TR4 was first detected, the majority of growers have implemented stringent on-farm biosecurity procedures to protect their farms against the disease which can be spread through contaminated soil, plant material and machinery,” ABGC chairman Doug Phillips said.

“The ABGC would encourage all growers to continue to carry out these vital on-farm processes to give the industry the best possible chance of stopping any further spread of this disease,” he said.

The ABGC’s comments come as Biosecurity Queensland prepares to launch an extensive multi-media awareness campaign this week calling on the banana industry and the general public to remain vigilant in the fight against Panama TR4.

The ABGC recently conducted a national ballot of all banana growers, which resulted in growers voting in favour of increasing the Plant Health Australia (PHA) levy to buyout the infected Tully property and cease all production at the site.

Mr Phillips said while the buyout would be an important step in the continued containment of TR4, fungal spores could lie dormant in soil for up to 40 years and therefore could be present in other parts of the region.

“I applaud growers for the steps they have taken since TR4 was first detected. Their biosecurity response has been incredible and to a large degree world class,” Mr Phillips said.

“However, just because we are buying out the Tully property I do not want any grower to get the false sense of security that we can drop the ball and become complacent. “

“The threat of this disease will always be there. And, on-farm biosecurity protocols are now forever a part of everyday farming life.”