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.
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.
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.
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.
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.