The Australian Banana Growers’ Council has today welcomed news that Australia has fought the freckle fight – and won.
The National Proof of Freedom from Banana Freckle disease marks a significant achievement for all involved in the eradication, including Australia’s commercial banana growers, the Northern Territory public and Government agencies.
Banana growers across the country funded half of the costs of the National Banana Freckle Eradication Response Program through a levy, and also contributed technical expertise and knowledge.
The Program helped safeguard an industry that contributes more than $1.2 billion to the nation’s economy and puts healthy, locally grown fruit on the table of some 96% of Aussie households.
Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair, Stephen Lowe, extended his thanks to those who helped in the extensive eradication process.
“The Territory’s commercial growers and backyard banana lovers have no doubt felt the brunt of this effort. We know it’s not easy to lose banana plants in any circumstance – be it natural disaster, disease or otherwise. We thank them for their part in ensuring our vibrant Australian industry is free from this potentially devastating disease.
“We also appreciate the dedication of the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries for running the Eradication Program and the countless hours put in by the various government and industry representatives who contributed.
“The Freckle Response has been the largest Emergency Plant Pest Response under the Plant Health Deed ever undertaken in Australia.
“Of course, commercial growers of all sizes across Australia have also contributed $12 million to this effort. The ABGC acknowledges that this is no small undertaking on their behalf and thanks them for their unwavering commitment to their industry.”
Mr Lowe added that the impact of banana freckle spreading further afield could have greatly impacted the industry, particularly if it reached the major growing area in Far North Queensland.
“The disease could have significantly reduced production, affecting our growers’ ability to supply local fruit to Australian consumers.
“On top of this, it would have affected our good standing internationally and export market opportunities.”
Banana freckle was detected in Cavendish bananas in the Northern Territory in 2013. Today’s announcement reflects the formal determination by all parties that Banana Freckle (Phyllosticta cavendishii) has been officially eradicated from Australia following the successful completion of the National Banana Freckle Eradication Program Response.