Growers’ e-bulletin – July 6, 2018

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6 July, 2018


Workplace Safety
Leaf Spot increase
Rubbish reminder
HARPs and HACCP refresher
Looking to export?
Banana industry LEADs
Download BetterBunch
Reserve your Roadshow spot

Workplace Safety

The Australia Banana Growers’ Council has responded to concerns over recent improvement notices issued by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WH&SQ) to some Innisfail growers.  The main issue is that the regulations include a requirement for a travel restraint for bagging machines.

ABGC has organised two workshops – Mareeba (July 18) and Silkwood (July 19) – where Craig Althaus, a private WH&S specialist, will present on how to address WH&SQ improvement notices and to answer growers’ questions. ABGC has also raised concerns with WH&SQ about their processes, where growers were issued notices yet were not first advised what the regulations required, especially in regard to bagging machines.

WH&SQ advised that their NSW colleagues are also aware of an avocado grower’s death using a cherry picker. So, this issue is not just one for Queensland.

Growers looking for the legislated requirement in regard to WH&S in Queensland could check the actual provision available via our website here.

Other issues stemming from recent WH&S inspections included;

·         Unsafe handling of chemical (ie no PPE used)

·         Field supervisors and workers needing first aid certification, and first aid equipment must be provided for harvest workers

Further details of the Mareeba and Silkwood workshops will be distributed via SMS and e-bulletin.

For more information or questions please contact Jim Pekin at ABGC on 07 3278 4786.

Leaf Spot on the increase in NQ

Banana growers are reporting an increase in the incidence of ‘leaf spot’ in the north Queensland production area.

ABGC reminds growers that  it is an unfair cost on neighbouring properties when one grower doesn’t keep the disease under control.

The banana industry guideline recommends that growers keep left spot levels on the banana plant below 5 % of the total leaf area in order to meet their general biosecurity obligations.

A rubbish reminder

There have been some reports of bunch bags found along roadsides and in a waterway.

It is every grower’s business to keep the good reputation of the industry intact.

HARPS and HACCPS refresher

The team behind HARPS are currently gauging interest for a one-day, face-to-face HARPS and HACCP refresher course.

In response to feedback during their awareness sessions, the course would cover a range of topics including:

·         HARPS overview and general requirements

·         Food safety and quality issues

·         Legal requirements

The course will include Food Safety Risk assessment and the HACCP process, which will qualify as ‘HACCP refresher training’ (and save a separate course).

Attendees will be provided with a handbook with the slide presentation and provision for note taking as well as supporting documents for exercises and case studies (all to keep). The course will also provide example templates and pro-formas for attendees to use on farm.

There will be a fee and locations/dates will be determined on interest, so please contact the ABGC office should you wish to attend or need more information: 07 3278 4786 or

Community launch of Panama TR4 ready campaign

Panama TR4 public communication research, from Biosecurity Queensland, has recently found that the community wants to stay informed about Panama TR4 and we need to continue to encourage growers to be Panama TR4 ready.

With this in mind, the Palaszczuk Government, with the support of the ABGC, is launching the Panama TR4 ready ad campaign on 19 July.

The campaign features television, newspaper, radio advertisements, social media and a dedicated website with clear calls to action for everyone – such as not entering a banana farm without permission, coming clean and leaving clean from farms, and reporting sick plants to 13 25 23.

Your industry is a big part of the community, providing income and jobs to many. We need to make sure everyone plays their part to prevent this disease from spreading.

Join us for the community launch.

Date: Thursday 19 July

Time: 2-3pm

Where: Innisfail Library, 49 Rankin Street, Innisfail

RSVP: By Wednesday 18 July – 07 40918140 or email


QLD Minister Mark Furner recently announced the #PanamaTR4ready TV ad in Cairns, and you can read ABGC’s response here.

Is exporting on your radar?

If you’re interested in exporting bananas, reach out to Jim Pekin (ABGC) via for a copy of the Banana Export Strategy. It was developed as part of a Hort Innovation-commissioned market research project, by McKinna et al.

It is information-based and notes the best opportunities for Australian banana exports.

It notes potential opportunities in specific countries and for differentiated products, such as organic, eco-friendly, branded, value-added pre-pecks and different varieties.

Also on exports, the Growing Queensland Food Exports program opened its second round of funding on 1 July. It focuses on horticultural exports from Queensland.

Matched funding between $50,000 and $100,000 is available over two years per eligible project. Applicants must contribute 50% of the total funds required.

If interested, contact Jodie Campbell, at DAF on 0467 735 036 or

Banana industry among LEADers

The banana industry was well-represented at the first Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) workshop in Canberra this week.

Far North QLD growers James Howe, Ben Abbott and Luke Gilbert were among the attendees, as well as ABGC Communications Manager Sonia Campbell who presented ‘Influencing through Communications’.

The LEAD program involves growers from a range of tropical industries, providing skills needed to improve their businesses and make a positive difference in their industry.

Forget Facebook, there’s an app that actually HELPS you work

Phones can do just about anything these days – so why not make the most of it? The Australian Banana Growers’ Council developed BetterBunch as a quick and easy way to record information about your farm practices.

By downloading the BetterBunch app onto your smart phone or tablet, you can record and retrieve:

·         The application and calibration of fertilisers and chemicals

·         Irrigation application

·         Planting, harvesting, deleafing and desuckering activities

The web interface allows you to:

·         Record soil and leaf tests for each paddock

·         Print records for auditing purposes (food safety or environmental)

Find BetterBunch in the AppStore, on Google Play or via If you need more information or training contact Robert Mayers on 0447 000 203 /

Reserve your spot at the 2018 banana roadshows

The countdown is on for the start of the 2018 National Banana Roadshow Series. Event organisers are urging growers and industry stakeholders to RSVP to the fast-paced events.

Dates and locations include:

– Murwillumbah, Tuesday 24 July, Murwillumbah Services Club (9 am – 3:30 pm)

– Coffs Harbour, Thursday 26 July, Coffs Harbour Showgrounds (9 am – 3:30 pm)

– Tully, Thursday 9 August, Tully & District Senior Citizens Hall (9 am – 3:30 pm)

– Innisfail, Friday 10 August, Innisfail Showgrounds (9 am – 3:30 pm)

– Mareeba, Friday 17 August, Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy – John Charles room (9 am – 3:30 pm)

– Carnarvon, Thursday 30 August, Carnarvon Yacht Club (9 am – 3 pm)

These are your levies at work! Come along and see how the latest research applies to your business.

Register now through Eventbrite or contact your local industry extension officers:

For Queensland and WA events contact Shanara Veivers (DAF) at or phone/text 0400 870 731.

For NSW events contact Matt Weinert (NSW DPI) at or phone/text 0438 644 136.

The strategic levy investment project National Banana Development and Extension Program BA16007 is part of the Hort Innovation Banana Fund. The project is funded by Hort Innovation using the banana research and development levy, co-investment from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.

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.