CEO Column – August 2020

Jim Pekin

Surveillance strategy review 

The new Panama TR4 Program Management Board was due to meet for the second time on July 15, but had to post-pone, due to unforeseen circumstances. 

The Board – which will oversee the continued delivery and governance of the Panama TR4 Program – will now meet on August 10, via teleconference. 

On 30 June, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) and Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cost Sharing Deed (CSD) establishing the joint funding arrangement and management of the Program by industry and government. The signing was a culmination of many hours of work by ABGC and BQ to fine tune how the two parties will jointly oversee and fund the Panama TR4 Program until 30 June, 2023. (See funding table below)

After the signing of the MoU and CSD, the Board is now focussing on a review of the TR4 Program’s
surveillance strategy in the Northern Banana Biosecurity Zone. Depending on the outcomes of this review, it could affect different growers in different ways.

This review is likely to result in a change in the frequency of surveillance visits for most growers. For some, it will mean more surveillance, for others it will mean less. ABGC and BQ will be in a position to provide further details on the outcomes of the review once the Board has approved the strategy. 

You will see from the graph on Page 7 of the magazine that TR4 continues to spread slowly in the Tully Valley on the infested farms, therefore all growers in this area and beyond should continue to be vigilant and report any suspect plants.

So far, the collaborative efforts of industry and government have limited the spread of this disease, however early detection will always be key.

As at 14 July 2020, 85 plants had been confirmed with TR4 in the Tully Valley, which have been destroyed across 34 different destruction sites, across the four infested farms since 2015. 

This disease will continue to spread, however with so many potential risk pathways for TR4 we know that the best way to protect your farm is to keep the disease from entering your farm, and this means
maintaining good on-farm biosecurity. 

COVID-19 Health Management Plans 

By now, most growers would be aware that the Queensland Government has stepped up its compliance monitoring activities to ensure all farms have a COVID-19 Health Management Plan in place. 

This was a direct response to a positive case of COVID-19 on a farm in Bundaberg earlier this
year. ABGC understands that the Government is planning to increase compliance monitoring across

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Queensland Police targeted, in early July, farms across three regional growing regions, Burdekin and Bowen-Gumlu, Sunshine Coast and Caboolture and Gayndah-Mundubbera.

If you are unsure of your requirements as an employer, you can find more information on
the ABGC’s website or email