QBAN update

In 2017, the Quality Banana Approved Nursery (QBAN) Scheme will be updated and transferred from a state government regulated scheme to a scheme run by a partnership between the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) and the Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA).

After the new Biosecurity Act commenced in July 2016, the regulator, Biosecurity Queensland (BQ), indicated that they would no longer provide the QBAN service and that industry should take over responsibility for the scheme.

Under the new Biosecurity Act, how will banana growers meet their general biosecurity obligation (GBO) if they do not have access to clean planting material?  Clean planting material is critical for reducing the spread of both exotic and endemic diseases, particularly TR4 and Banana Bunchy Top virus (BBTV).

The new industry-run QBAN scheme will be developed by ABGC and NGIA in consultation with current QBAN businesses, relevant technical experts, governments and banana growers, and will involve accreditation under the Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia (NIASA) and BioSecure HACCP Certification. BQ however, will support the QBAN scheme during the transition period over the next year or so.

NIASA Accreditation/BioSecure HACCP Certification offer the banana industry the experience and platform to develop and deliver a banana-specific clean planting material scheme, while the banana industry retains influence and oversight of such a scheme. Additionally, the NIASA/BioSecure HACCP system is independently audited and already has national approval from all state and federal jurisdictions, which is important for the movement of planting material.

The new QBAN scheme is aimed at being a more practical and workable system while ensuring the best possible biosecurity for industry and meeting legislative requirements in each state. The scheme will target priority diseases, for example, Panama TR4 and BBTV, and provide a superior disease-tested, cost-effective product that growers prefer to buy to enhance their on-farm biosecurity and meet their GBO.

The scheme will initially cover tissue culture laboratories and grow-out nurseries. Additional modules for clean mother blocks and in-ground nurseries for the supply of clean bits and suckers will be investigated for their feasibility and development.

The update and transition of QBAN will take approximately 12 months with implementation beginning in 2018.  For further information, please contact Dr Rosie Godwin rosie@abgc.org.au

**Funding for the transition and establishment of the new QBAN scheme is provided by Horticulture Innovation Australia’s BA14014 Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 Research Program, which is led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The project will be subcontracted to NGIA and is expected to begin soon.

·         NIASA (Nursery Industry Accreditation Scheme Australia) — is a national scheme for production nurseries which operate in accordance with a set of national ‘best management practice’ guidelines.

·         BioSecure HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) — is the industry-specific on-farm biosecurity program (a set of protocols) designed to assist production nurseries to assess their endemic and exotic pest and disease risks, and implement management strategies at critical control points. Businesses manage biosecurity risks by establishing an effective quarantine process for both imported and exported plant material.