Future funding of TR4 management

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) has welcomed today’s $12.1 million Queensland Government funding announcement to continue to fund the control and containment of Panama disease tropical race 4.

The Queensland Government recently advised the ABGC that it would continue to fund the existing TR4 management Program until 30 June 2019. However, from 1 July onwards, government funding for the program would only continue under a cost-sharing arrangement with industry.

The ABGC believes that the existing TR4 Management and Containment Program, run by Biosecurity Queensland (BQ), was crucial to reducing the spread of the disease.

Since the first detection of TR4 in the Tully Valley in March 2015, there have been just two other farms detected with the disease, thanks to the collaborative effort of ABGC, BQ, individual growers, researchers and the wider community.

The industry purchase – via a national levy and ABGC funds – of the first infected farm and subsequent shutdown of all operations on it has also contributed significantly to this containment.

“ABGC believes that the TR4 Program is well worth investing in into the future,” said ABGC Chair Stephen Lowe.

“The efforts of industry, government, community and researchers in minimising the spread of this potentially devastating disease have been world class. No other country with Panama TR4 has had the same success in containing the disease as we have here in North Queensland.

“But the reality is that Panama TR4 is here to stay and it will eventually spread. Therefore planning for the future is critical.”

“We welcome the Government’s additional $12m announced today that will underpin the TR4 Program from January this year to June 2023.

ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland recently formed a working group to develop a formal partnership agreement setting out how the TR4 Program would be designed, delivered, funded and governed over the next four years.

The ABGC has also begun consulting banana growers nationally to gain feedback on the new partnership arrangement, particularly how industry will fund its share.

Mr Lowe emphasised that while Panama TR4 was contained to a relatively small area in Far North Queensland for now, slowing the inevitable spread is beneficial for the banana industry as a whole.

Growers who wish to discuss the issue or give feedback can contact ABGC on 07 3278 4786 or via email to the CEO – jim.pekin@abgc.org.au.