Growers’ e-bulletin – 28 October, 2021


Labour force issues
TR4 scientific review
Plastic recycling solution in NQ
Managing organic matter
BetterBunch experiencing tech glitch


Workforce Advocacy continues

The ABGC has advocated for the extension of 408 Visas to recognise the essential labour services visa holders provide to not only horticulture, but also in other sectors. 

We have asked the Federal Government to consider an automatic 12-month extension for 408 visa holders already in the country working in horticulture.

While there are plans for international borders to re-open it’s likely to be a long time before backpackers can travel and work in Australia.  Therefore, it is essential to retain those who are already working on farms and keen to help harvest bananas, where there are not enough Australians to do the work. 

The ABGC has made clear to Government that it is vital that growers who rely on visa holders already in Australia are given an assurance that those workers can stay working here.

Labour taskforce meeting

Last Friday, the ABGC’s Leanne Erakovic joined the East Coast Agriculture Labour Task Force – hosted by the Agriculture Ministers of New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria – to discuss actions needed to address existing and future harvest labour challenges.  

ABGC will continue to raise at all levels of Government the issue of access to a reliable, secure workforce for banana farms.

Contact Leanne, the ABGC’s advocate on workforce issues, if you have any comments or questions at

Labour force options to be heard at December AGM

Worker shortage challenges will also feature at the up-coming ABGC AGM.

Special guest speaker at the meeting will be Steve Burdette from Approved Employers of Australia who will address labour topics including;

  • An overview of labour in Australia
  • Labour options
  • Agvisa vs PLS/SWP/WHM
  • Key considerations for your farming business

The AGM will be held on Wednesday,  8 December at 5.30pm in the Conference Room, Centre for Wet Tropics Agriculture, Boogan. All ABGC members are welcome.

Outcomes from scientific TR4 review – Part 1

By now, most would have heard or read about the recently released Panama TR4 Epidemiological Review, independently commissioned to provide recommendations for industry to continue to manage the disease.

Here, in the first of a series to highlight outcomes from the review, we focus on valuable information for growers contained in the review to help limit the impact of TR4 through agronomic practices.

One of the findings in the Review showed that improving soil and plant health and reducing plant stress can leave plants less predisposed to infection and the build-up of inoculum is reduced.

An added benefit is that growers have reported general crop productivity improvements from implementing this type of regime. 

A key factor is ensuring optimal water relations, as banana plants that are either too dry or too wet can also predispose them to infection by Panama disease.

For more information about these agronomic practices, go to pages 10-14 of the EPI review which can be read HERE  

If you have any questions, contact a member of the National Banana Extension and Development team on 07 4220 4177 or contact the Panama TR4 Program Management Board via email:

Latest TR4 support and advice

For more information and advice on how to protect your farm and community from Panama TR4 go to the latest factsheet now on-line on the PanamaTR4protect website HERE

Spreading the news

If you are in FNQ, keep an eye out for Panama TR4 situation updates in media over coming months.

The Panama TR4 Program has scheduled a rotation of updates – to raise general awareness of Panama – to be published in FNQ newspapers and announced on local radio.  Keep an eye out in the following publications for the first round of ads:

  • Wet Tropic Times – Thursday 28 October 
  • Cairns Local News – Friday 29 October 
  • Cairns Post – Saturday 30 October 

For further information or to receive copies of the updates please call the Panama TR4 Program on 07 4091 8140 or email

Cairns Post situation update in early general news, Saturday 30 October 2021

Wet Tropic Times (Thursday 28 October 2021) and Cairns Local News (Friday 29 October 2021) situation updates in Public Notices

Become a farm Plastics champion today

Disposal and recycling of plastic waste is an ongoing challenge for all banana growers. 

Now MAMS Group and Greencollar have partnered to create a part solution in Far North Queensland, by subsidising the collection of plastic waste (HDPE and LDPE) and its delivery to a recycling centre. 

MAMS group in Innisfail are now collecting bunch bags from farms under the Far North Queensland Farm Plastics Program.

Bales will be collected free and, where pre-baling is not possible, significantly reduced collection costs are available via MAMS. 

For more information or to discuss collection costs,  please contact MAMS Cassowary Coast (07) 4061 7450 or Charlotte Fladgate or visit

Guideline available to assist with managing organic matter

A reminder that the Banana Best Management Practices Environmental Guideline can assist with ways to better manage organic matter on farm.

Cultivation has its role to play, but too much of it becomes detrimental to soil health.

Click on the guideline HERE and go to Page 42 for more on managing land and soil. Or contact ABGC’s Best Practice Team via

BetterBunch tech issues

The BetterBunch mobile app is currently experiencing some technical issues and is undergoing repairs by our service provider. We apologise for the inconvenience.

We hope to get these problems rectified as soon as possible.