Growers’ e-bulletin – Proposed response plan for NT Banana Freckle

Dear Growers

The ABGC’s Board met via video-link today to discuss a proposed National Eradication Response Plan aimed at eradicating the recent outbreak of Banana Freckle in the Northern Territory.

The six-month Response Plan has been developed by the NT Government and aims to delimit, contain and eradicate the disease, in a multi-agency and Government & industry cost-sharing arrangement.

The ABGC has been working closely with the NT Government and other members of a steering committee to ensure the best outcome for the banana industry nationally, as well as those directly affected and the local community.

Since the initial detection of Banana Freckle was confirmed in late May, there are now 16 infected properties located in the Rum Jungle-Batchelor region and one in a government-run research facility in the Middle Point area.

Containing this disease is of utmost importance to our national industry. Key elements of the NT Government’s proposed Response Plan are;

·       Implement emergency containment measures including movement controls and quarantine measures in those locations where infected premises are identified.

·       Delimit the immediate extent of the outbreak in the Rum Jungle, Batchelor and Middle Point areas, including destruction of all banana plants on infected premises and payment of Owner Reimbursement Costs (ORCs) to eligible businesses.

·       Undertake widespread surveillance to provide additional confidence in delimiting the extent of the disease.

·       Engage the community to optimise tracing and ongoing support for surveillance activities that will support the declaration of eradication.

The National Management Group (NMG) – which includes the NT Government, Federal and State Departments of Agriculture, nursery industry and the ABGC – will meet next week to vote on proceeding with the Response Plan.

The ABGC strongly supports this Plan and Directors have unanimously agreed to commit the banana industry’s share of the eradication response, which has an upper limit of $780,000, at the NMG meeting.

The ABGC Board noted that no new levy was required from growers (under this plan) and that the banana industry’s share will be funded through the existing PHA Levy, and paid back within 10 years.  That is, the PHA levy rate for growers will NOT change.

The ABGC believes the Eradication Response is the best course of action to limit the spread of this disease both locally in the NT and protect the industry in Queensland and other States.

ABGC also supported the NT’s proposal to implement the Plan, including destroying banana plants  before the onset of the wet season in December, when the risk of transmission is much higher.

The Plan includes triggers for its review, mainly if it gets to another commercial farm, or to more than 10 more non-commercial premises.

The ABGC will inform growers of the outcome of next week’s NMG meeting and any further developments. If any grower has any questions about the Response Plan, please contact ABGC CEO Jim Pekin on 07 3278 4786.