Major milestone in the management of Panama TR4

Major milestone in the management of Panama TR4

Queensland’s ongoing management of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) will be led by the banana industry from 1 July 2023.

Panama TR4 was first discovered in Queensland in the Tully Valley in 2015. Since then, it has been successfully contained to just eight properties through a comprehensive partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the state’s $600 million banana industry.

The transition of disease management to industry is the first of its kind to occur in Queensland and is a culmination of government and industry working cohesively since the initial detection in 2015.

Control and containment efforts have been delivered through Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program (Program) since this time.

Surveillance, compliance, communications and engagement have been delivered through the Program, which has been recognised as one of the most successful Panama TR4 control and containment strategies in the world.

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) has worked closely with Biosecurity Queensland and growers since the initial detection to help protect the Australian banana industry from further spread of the disease.

Over the past three years, government, industry and growers have worked closely to transition governments’ understanding, knowledge and experience in successful Panama TR4 control and containment to an industry-led model.

The Queensland Government’s Panama TR4 Program has been jointly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the ABGC through grower levies.

The change in disease management leadership will enact changes to the legislative framework that is currently in place.

A regulatory Restricted Places notice will apply to all properties with the disease, whether the property is commercially producing bananas or not. The restrictions aim to limit the movement of soil and plant material from the infested property, minimising the risk of disease spread to the broader banana industry.

Commercial banana farms with Panama TR4 will also need to adhere to industry’s ‘Code of Practice for the Management and Control of Panama disease tropical race 4 on an Infested Property in Queensland.’

The Code of Practice has been developed by industry after grower and government consultation and replaces the existing regulatory ‘Notice of presence of Panama disease tropical race 4’, currently issued to infested property owners.

In addition, all commercial banana growers will be guided by the Banana Industry Biosecurity Guideline to meet their general biosecurity obligation.

The industry led TR4 Control Program will deliver surveillance and compliance and continue to work closely with the Queensland Government, growers and the community to control and contain the destructive disease.

Government will continue to support future disease management through compliance, research and development, and extension activities.

Quotes attributable to DAF Panama TR4 Program Leader Rhiannon Evans:

“The success is largely due to growers, government, industry, scientists and researchers working together. 

“Without the pillars of regulation, industry and research working together, the control and containment efforts would not have been as effective.”

Quotes attributable to ABGC Chair Leon Collins:

“The partnership between government and industry has been crucial to the program’s success. However, the swift response from Biosecurity Queensland and DAF after the initial detection, and their commitment to the ongoing management of this disease since, is greatly and sincerely appreciated by our industry.

“Early detection through surveillance on farms, compliance on known infested properties, growers’ commitment to on-farm biosecurity, and the collaboration that has taken place between industry, growers, researchers and government, has been key to stemming the spread of this disease and has helped protect our broader national industry.

“For that, we are extremely grateful, and we look forward to continuing this great work to continue to manage the spread of TR4 into the future.”

Mr Collins said a significant amount of work had been done in the last three years by key stakeholders to reach the point of industry-led management of the disease.

“Transition to industry leadership is a massive undertaking that looks simple from the outside, but has proven to have multiple moving parts.

“We have a strong partnership with Biosecurity Queensland (BQ) who have dedicated staff working alongside the ABGC to ensure all the legislative requirements will continue to be met.”

Quotes attributable to Australian Banana Growers’ Council TR4 Control Program Manager Geoff Wilson:

“The $42 million the Queensland Government has invested into the control and containment of Panama TR4 cannot be underestimated. The Queensland banana industry would not look like what it does today without this generous level of support.

“Banana growers, especially infested property owners, also deserve significant recognition for their efforts in helping to control and contain Panama TR4, which in turn has helped to protect the rest of the industry.”