Be #PanamaTR4Ready with new campaign

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council has welcomed a new Queensland Government campaign encouraging everyone to be Panama TR4 ready.

The campaign was announced in Cairns today by Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner.

Panama tropical race 4 is a fungus that lives in the soil and infects banana plants through the roots.

Though it doesn’t affect the much-loved fruit, the disease eventually kills the plants and currently has no cure.

While research into resistant or tolerant varieties continues, Queensland has enacted one of the world’s most successful containment strategies with only three farms in the state infected since March 2015.

The new #PanamaTR4Ready campaign highlights the need for this to continue and targets growers, service providers, visitors and the general community.

To be officially launched in mid-July, the campaign will include television and radio advertising, grower testimonials and a website.

ABGC chair Stephen Lowe said the industry appreciated ongoing efforts to raise awareness.

“Bananas are intrinsic to North Queensland and it’s important that both growers and the community more broadly play their part in preventing the spread of this disease,” he said.

“Australian banana farm production, primarily based in this region, is valued at $600m. Many of our dedicated growers have already gone to great lengths to safeguard the industry and we hope this new campaign will encourage more growers, residents and tourists to get on board.”

The #PanamaTR4Ready campaign will feature a television advertisement highlighting the biosecurity measures in place on Mark Nucifora’s North Queensland banana farm.

On his fenced and gated Cowley farm, Mr Nucifora has ensured there are foot washes at all entry points and that farm boots don’t leave his property. On top of that, any vehicles that must enter are disinfected and all employees are educated about the disease.

He encouraged any residents, tourists or service providers to seek permission before entering a farm and respect each owner’s biosecurity protocols.

“Any person that comes onto your farm, whether it’s to take a photo, to provide a service or to deliver something, has the potential to carry Panama TR4 if the appropriate biosecurity protocols aren’t followed.

“Everybody needs to take this seriously.”

The commercial is expected to be shown online and on television next month.