Growers’ e-bulletin – December 13, 2019


December 9, 2019


New ABGC Directors
ABGC board meeting
A-peeling idea from Australian Bananas
NQ recording requirements in place 
Banana team seeks extension officer
Nutrient trial reaches milestone 
Who gets TR4 surveillance  
Sustainability in Australian horticulture  
New edition of Australian Bananas mag


New ABGC Directors


The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) has welcomed two new faces to its board of directors.

Doriana Mangili, Business Manager of the Sweeter Banana Co-Operative in Western Australia, has replaced out-going long-time director Tom Day (WA). Atherton Tablelands grower Andrew Serra has joined the board as an eighth director.

The new appointments were made during the Board’s December quarterly meeting, held at South Johnstone last week. The ABGC’s AGM was also held at the same location on Wednesday night and was well attended by local ABGC members.

Stephen Lowe (QLD) will continue as ABGC Chair, with Leon Collins (QLD) retaining the Deputy Chair position. Stephen Spear (NSW) will continue on the board as a director, however he has resigned as Treasurer, a position filled by QLD director Ben Franklin.

Paul Inderbitzin (QLD) and Jade Buchanan (QLD) also remain on the board.


ABGC Board Meeting

It was a busy two days of discussion, during the Board’s quarterly meeting and Wednesday’s AGM.

Some of the main issues were;

Feral pig eradication funding

Tully director and Deputy Chair Leon Collins raised concerns over future funding of the TR4 Feral Pig Eradication Program.

As at September 30, 2019 – 5333 feral pigs had been controlled in the TR4 Feral Pig Program and 4596 of these by ABGC and banana growers. However funding allocated to the program will not be enough to enter Phase 3 if the aerial shooting activity was to including all areas within the Cassowary Coast local government area.

Mr Collins said it was imperative that activity continue to focus on the TR4 priority area in the Tully Valley. ABGC will be advocating for additional funding to support the very successful aerial shooting activity.

Reef grants

The ABGC is encouraging growers to take advantage of a $1 million funding package on offer from the Queensland Government to support growers to implement best practice on farm.

Grants of up to $45,000 are on offer (with co-funding by the applicant) to assist growers to make improvements to their farms, ie projects which reduce sediment, nutrient and chemical run-off.

Some examples of potential projects include;

–          Automated fertigation systems with soil moisture monitoring

–          Contour mapping and row layout advice

–          Purchase of drone spraying equipment so that targeted killing of weeds/grass is more achievable.

Colombia TR4

Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program Leader, Rhiannon Evans delivered a 30 minute presentation to the board, giving an overview of her recent trip to Colombia and an update on the Panama TR4 Program.

Colombia is one of the biggest banana exporters in the world and officially confirmed the presence of TR4 in the country in October. Ms Evans was invited to Colombia by government officials and researchers from the country’s ICA (Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario) to discuss Queensland’s response to TR4, recognising Queensland’s success in preventing the rapid spread of the disease.

During her visit, Ms Evans toured a number of banana farms, and was asked at length about what measures Colombian banana growers could implement to slow the spread of the disease.

During the board meeting, Ms Evans also updated directors on one of the Program’s technical working groups made up of government, industry, and growers to work on future surveillance plans for TR4. Rhiannon also confirmed Queensland Government’s commitment to working collaboratively with industry in the fight against TR4.

Marketing update

Growers who attended the AGM were given a marketing update by Hort Innovation’s Marketing Manager Tate Connolly.

After a 15 minute presentation, Ms Connolly took questions from the floor. Growers asked about a number of future marketing plans including differentiating between different varieties, the measurables being used to assess the success of existing banana marketing and promotions, and what is being planned to increase volume sales and price.

Bushfire Appeal

Those who attended the AGM were also shown a video of NSW banana growers affected by the recent East Coast bushfires.

The video was produced to promote a Banana Growers’ Bushfire Appeal Go Fund Me campaign that was established to help provide financial support to four NSW growers and a fifth in Queensland whose farms were devastated in the November fires.

To view the video click here. 


A-peeling idea goes viral

The industry’s marketing arm, Australian Bananas, has been making waves around the world through ambassador Susie Burrell’s tips for eating the whole fruit – skin and all.

Content posted on the high-profile dietitian’s blog has been picked up by a range of media outlets, including in the US and UK, touting the benefits of peel for boosting dietary fibre, vitamin b6, vitamin c and magnesium. Of course, it’s also a great way to reduce food waste.

As Susie told ‘Good Food’, that doesn’t necessarily mean tucking into raw peel, but instead considering baking or blending. You can check out the article – and a recipe – here. 


Recording requirements now in place

North Queensland growers are reminded that General Recording conditions came into effect as a part of the Reef Protections Regulations on December 1.

For more info visit or contact Robert Mayers via or on 0447000203.


Join the banana team & help improve water quality

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council is seeking an extension officer who is keen to work with banana growers to make practical changes that improve farm management and water quality in Far North Queensland.

This role will take a lead in delivering $750,000 in grower grants, which part fund projects that reduce nutrient and sediment runoff in reef catchments. The focus of the ABGC extension role is to help growers identify their own projects and practice changes that will improve farming sustainability and long-term profitability.

Applications close January 8. More details here.


Banana nutrient trial reaches milestone

A Banana Nutrient Rate Trial being run by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) in partnership with industry, reached a major milestone recently with its first harvest of bananas. 

The three year trial is looking at current nitrogen fertiliser use in commercial banana production systems and comparing this with new minimum standard (nitrogen fertiliser) application rates. The trial will assess how these rates effect production, profitability and the environment. Read more in the upcoming edition of Australian Bananas magazine.


Who gets Panama TR4 surveillance on their property and why

Finding the disease early is critical so less fungal spores build up in the soil.  To ensure early detection Biosecurity Queensland have a team of trained surveillance officers looking for plants with symptoms of the disease. It is one of the more effective ways but also one of the most costly.

To run an efficient and effective surveillance program, government and industry agreed that surveillance would be based on a farm’s level of potential exposure to the disease.

To find out how that is determined, read Managing Panama TR4 – early detection is critical and Check your plants for Panama TR4.


Sustainability in Australian horticulture

Hort Innovation is inviting all people interested in horticulture to share their thoughts on the sustainability of fruit, vegetable, nut, cut flowers, turf and nursery production in Australia.

This short, 10 minute survey will help industry to understand and respond to the issues that are most important to you.  Click here to have your say.


Fire recovery, trespass issues and a Top End tour in mag

You can expect to find the latest issue of Australian Bananas magazine in your mailbox, or online, in the next few weeks. 

This edition, a special feature on growers bouncing back after devastating bushfires along with export insights, trespass issues and on-farm stories from around the growing regions.



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