Growers’ e-bulletin – March 23, 2018


March 23, 2018


Pigs, Panama and leading your industry
Cassowary Coast growers, we need you!
Rummaging through your reject bins
QLD Rural Women’s Award winner
Bananas classic creates buzz
Highest risk growers get Panama TR4 read

ABGC Board discussion

The ABGC Board met in Brisbane last week. Highlights included the continued focus on TR4 management, feral pig eradication update and the LEAD Leadership Program.

TR4 Management

The board had a presentation and discussion with Acting Chief Biosecurity Officer Malcolm Letts.

Mr Letts discussed concerns raised by ABGC over ongoing investment by government into TR4 management and containment.

He said the current BQ-led and funded TR4 Program  would continue for the time being to focus on containment of TR4, including mitigating the risk of spread and assisting highest at-risk growers to plan for potential TR4 infection.

However, government would consider a range of options for longer term management of TR4 in the future.

He added that government recognised the significant economic contribution of the banana industry, particularly in relation to regional jobs.

Feral Pig Management

ABGC deputy chair Leon Collins, who co-ordinates ABGCs Feral Pig Management Working Group, gave an update on the current feral pig aerial shooting program.

He reported that 1011 pigs had been taken out of high-risk TR4 zones since the eradication program began in July.

Mr Collins continues to drive that program including advocating to local members, co-ordinating eradication efforts with canegrowers, monitoring outcomes from grant funding and pursuing greater management efforts in national parks.

He is also the banana industry’s representative on the Feral Pig Executive Oversight Committee Meeting, led by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council

LEAD Program

The ABGC Board discussed the leadership program for growers that ABGC is a part of called ‘Leadership Exploration and Development in horticultural industries’ (LEAD).

The project is funded by the Federal Government and involves a range of associations for the tropical fruits.

LEAD will be delivered over three years to 40 growers through a combination of workshops and webinars to encourage industry dialogue, innovative practices, strategic thinking, planning and problem solving.

The program will cover a range of topics including crisis management, understanding and managing biosecurity, international trade, networking and effective lobbying.

There are nine places available on this program for ABGC members, but time is running out to apply! To find out more contact Leanne at or phone 07 3278 4786. You can also visit the information page on the ABGC website.

The LEAD program has been made possible through the Leadership in Agricultural Industries Fund, administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to support Australian agricultural industry.

Cassowary Coast growers, we need you!

Feast of the Senses is just days away, but we still need more volunteers to ensure the Australian Bananas marquee is a success.

If you can give up just 1 hour of your time, this Sunday March 25, please contact Elise Nucifora on email:

Volunteers are needed from 8am-2pm to help hand out merchandise and whip up banana smoothies – it’s an easy, fun-filled day with good company.

The Feast of the Senses Market Day is sponsored by Australian Bananas and we are keen to ensure our bright yellow marquee remains the success it has been in previous years.

Rummaging through your reject bins

Matt Weinert is in the Coffs region until March 24 as part of the new subtropical development and extension program.

He’s keen to look at reject and downgraded fruit as part of this project, which is funded by the Hort Innovation Banana Fund.

By developing an understanding of what causes the reject and downgrade, growers will be better able to manage these problems in the future, with the aim of packing more premium fruit.

Growers in the Tweed, Brunswick and Richmond will be visited over the coming weeks, and Coffs again from April 16.

If you are interested in being involved in the project give Matt call on 0438 644 136. You can read more about this project via the NSW Country Hour.

Congratulations Krista!

Walkamin banana grower Krista Watkins has been named Queensland’s AgriFutures Australia Rural Women’s Award winner.

Krista, from Natural Evolution Foods, wants to help farmers generate additional income from produce that would normally be wasted.

She’ll also be in the running for the national Rural Women’s Award in September.

Bananas classic creates buzz

Fair warning: you’ll have this bananas classic in your head for the rest of the day if you read on.

‘Make Those Bodies Sing’ this week made Buzzfeed’s list of 28 Iconic Australian TV Ads. “It honestly made me believe that eating bananas would solve all my problems,” the author wrote.

We couldn’t agree more!

Highest risk growers getting Panama TR4 ready

Biosecurity Queensland reports that a key take-away from highest risk grower visits is that farm zoning is the first priority to being Panama TR4 ready.

Effectively separating clean zones from dirty zones both in the farming activity zone and the packing shed is vitally important, while a clean access road allows fruit transport vehicles to enter farms, allowing trade to continue.

Staff from the ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland have been visiting these growers to discuss how best to get their farms Panama TR4 ready and to meet the requirements of a ‘Notice of presence of Panama disease tropical race 4 affected land’ if the disease is detected on their farm.

Feedback is that the personalised information for the growers has given them a better understanding of what they need to consider when making operational changes to meet a notice. Growers can then work through to tailor their own solutions to meet the requirements.

More information on farm zoning can be found here.

Have you subscribed to the Panama TR4 Program Update?

Are you missing out on important information about Panama TR4? Keep up to date with Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program by subscribing to their Program Update.

Visit the Biosecurity Queensland website and subscribe to their bi-monthly eNewsletters and alerts by ticking the ‘bananas’ box here. The March edition is out now. This month’s topics include:

·         minimal downtime for the third infested farm

·         how Biosecurity Queensland works with farms that might be infested

·         the tracing and surveillance review

·         a long-term plan for managing Panama TR4

·         innovative ideas in decontamination.

Read the March Program Update online here.

Hort Innovation

This e-bulletin is produced by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council as a part of the Communications Project for the Banana Industry funded by HIA Ltd using the banana industry R&D levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

Contact Details
It is important that ABGC is advised if you know of growers who are not receiving these e-bulletins or the Australian Banana magazine. We may have out of date email or postal addresses for these growers. Please email any updated contact details to:

Also, it is important for membership purposes that growers advise ABGC if they change trading name or their agent (wholesaler) or add one, and also to let their agent know.