Growers’ e-bulletin – September 7, 2020


7 September, 2020


Workers urgently needed on banana farms
Panama TR4 surveillance changing
National feral pig forum
Final call for Nuffield Scholars 


Worker shortages

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council has written to the Queensland Premier, as well as the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, urgently requesting the government commit to restarting the Seasonal Worker Program to help banana farms fill their worker shortage gaps. 

The industry’s predicted workforce shortages are now critical after the repatriation of the first group of ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers on Saturday. Approved Employers of the Seasonal Worker Program were caught unaware, with no notice given by the Vanuatu Government to help get seasonal workers home or time to arrange replacement workers.  This has left some farms short of staff to pick and pack fruit. 

The commencement of weekly repatriation flights should provide an opportunity for an exchange of seasonal workers in areas where jobs cannot be filled by Australian workers. However, this can only take place after the Queensland Government opts in, to restart the Seasonal Worker Program.

The ABGC urges all farm employers and harvest job seekers, who haven’t already done so, to register now with Harvest Trail and to let ABGC know about your worker shortage concerns.  Both governments use numbers on the lack of take-up of job opportunities in its worker strategy considerations.

If you have any further concerns or queries, please contact Leanne Erakovic, ABGC Executive Officer, on 07 3278 4786 or


Panama TR4 surveillance changing

By now, all commercial banana growers in Far North Queensland should have received letters detailing changes to the Panama TR4 Program surveillance activities.

Under the new changes, all commercial banana properties in the Tully Valley and in the area from Cardwell to Lakeland will now receive Panama TR4 surveillance.


Since 2015, surveillance has been based on proximity to, and the number of links to, an infested property.  The disease has not spread via those links as expected.

To ensure the industry has the best chance of containing the disease, the Panama TR4 Program Management Board, made up of equal industry and government representation, has agreed that all properties for 2020/21 will have surveillance.

The frequency will be:

Checking all properties will confirm if the disease is contained to the Tully Valley and provide a cost-effective means of better protecting your farm and the banana industry.

More information about this change, the reasons behind it and the importance of surveillance can be found here.

You can also contact Donna Campagnolo, Operations Manager, Panama TR4 Program on 0476 846 793 or email, or contact Rosie Godwin, Research and Development Manager Australian Banana Growers’ Council on 0407 746 469 or email


National feral pig action forum

ABGC Deputy Chair, Leon Collins, recently spoke at the National Feral Pig Action Plan Stakeholder Forum. The event was attended by industry, researchers, government and other stakeholders to work on a national approach to feral pig management.  Feral pigs causing environmental damage and spreading disease are a serious issue for banana farmers, with significant money and time invested in control.

The banana industry has tackled this issue on all fronts, controlling close to 6000 feral pigs over the past three years in the Tully Valley, where Panama disease TR4 has slowly spread since 2015. Employing multiple control methods including aerial control, exclusion fencing, ground control, baiting and trapping the hard work is reaping results.

Farmers are experiencing a significant reduction in pig numbers and are seeing signs of revegetation around creeks and increased sightings of Cassowaries.  

The ABGC encourages all farmers concerned about feral pigs to contact ABGC on 07 3278 4786 or



Final call for Nuffield Scholars

If you’re interested in becoming a 2021 Nuffield Scholar – time is running out to get your application in.

Particularly important in times of change, Nuffield opens doors with big picture thinking and provides a global network of support.

For more information:


Contact Details
It is important that ABGC is advised if you know of growers who are not receiving these e-bulletins or the Australian Banana magazine. We may have out of date email or postal addresses for these growers. Please email any updated contact details to:

Also, it is important for membership purposes that growers advise ABGC if they change trading name or their agent (wholesaler) or add one, and also to let their agent know.