Statement from Biosecurity Queensland on new confirmed TR4 case

Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed a fourth detection of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) on a commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley.

Biosecurity Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer Malcolm Letts said a final vegetative compatibility group (VCG) test provided a definitive result for Panama TR4. 

“This follows the initial positive DNA-based molecular test in early February when the property was declared a ‘suspect new case of Panama TR4’,” he said.

“The VCG test is the ‘gold standard’ for identifying Panama TR4. The requirement for positive results from the two tests; the VCG and the DNA-based molecular test, ensures the accuracy of a positive final diagnosis.”

Mr Letts assured growers that while this fourth detection was disappointing for the banana industry in Far North Queensland, he was encouraged by the positive actions and attitudes of the affected grower, and the support being shown by industry bodies and fellow farmers.

“When a ‘suspect case’ is declared, the grower on the affected property needs to meet a set of biosecurity requirements,’ Mr Letts said.

“I’m pleased to say this grower already had good on-farm biosecurity measures in place and, with support from biosecurity officers, was able to meet these requirements and resume trading within four days”. 

A dedicated Biosecurity Queensland team will continue to work with the grower to ensure they meet their on-going legislative requirements, and biosecurity officers will carry out further enquiries and surveillance on the property and other linked land to determine the risk of disease spread.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair Stephen Lowe also praised the grower for their ongoing efforts at this difficult time.

“The confirmation of Panama TR4 on a fourth North Queensland banana farm is obviously extremely disappointing for the industry, and particularly for the grower concerned,” he said.

“We know our growers are incredibly resilient and, as an industry, we will continue to meet the challenges of Panama TR4. However, this confirmation is another reminder for growers to be vigilant and ensure they protect their farms and the broader industry at large.”

Mr Letts congratulated all growers on their continued efforts around biosecurity.

“Since the first detection of Panama TR4 in 2015, collective action by growers, the banana industry and the community have all aided in controlling the disease and on-farm biosecurity remains the best way to protect a farm and the industry,” Mr Letts said.

“Early detection of new infestations and destruction of infected plants in accordance with biosecurity protocols is critical to reducing the risk of the disease spreading.” 

If anyone suspects Panama TR4 they should contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately, an on-site visit by officers can be arranged by calling 13 25 23.

Panama TR4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit.

To find out more about Panama TR4 visit Follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld)