When new banana plant material is imported into Australia, rigorous Post Entry Quarantine (PEQ) disease screening is undertaken to protect the banana industry against known and emerging biosecurity threats. While changes to banana quarantine services are currently underway, the same strict standards that growers and other industry stakeholders rely on are being maintained.
PEQ services for the banana industry must adhere to strict conditions to safeguard the Australian banana industry from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases.
Since 1987, the PEQ process has been handled by Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) with support from the federal Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the banana industry research and development levy via Hort Innovation.
After careful consideration from DAF, DAFF, Hort Innovation and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), this process will be transitioned to the state-of-the-art DAFF Mickleham PEQ facility in Victoria where trial grow-outs have already proved successful.
This transition will result in the closure of the DAF banana industry glasshouse. The move will enable long-term and efficient provision of banana PEQ services under a commercial user-pays process, freeing up R&D levies and research staff. The tissue culture and diagnostic components of banana PEQ are being reviewed in terms of feasibility for transition, and further updates on additional stages of transition will be issued when available.
There will be no interruption to PEQ services during this transition and industry can rest assured that existing high standards will be maintained throughout this process and will continue at Mickleham.
The PEQ process for importing banana varieties is regulated by the Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF). The Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions (BICON) outlines the conditions for the importation of Musa spp. plants, including the condition for plants to be accompanied with a valid import permit issued by DAFF. On arrival, the imported plants undergo assessment and inspection by DAFF at the border. As part of the assessment, the imported plants are grown out within biosecurity containment for thorough observation, sampling and rigorous testing for known and potentially emerging biosecurity threats. The whole import process typically takes 18-24 months.
PEQ services for the banana industry have been provided by the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) through funding by DAF and the banana industry R&D levy (via Hort Innovation) to ensure there is an import pathway available for the safe entry of new banana plant varieties.
Bananas is the only horticultural industry that funds PEQ services using an industry R&D levy.
Banana PEQ into the future
Queensland DAF, DAFF, Hort Innovation and the Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) have been working towards a long-term, sustainable PEQ arrangement for the banana industry. This will involve the transition of banana PEQ greenhouse services to the DAFF PEQ facility located in Mickleham, Victoria.
The Mickleham facility delivers PEQ services for high-risk plant commodities and offers state-of-the-art quarantine facilities to grow material for disease screening. It caters for over 30 genera of plants and seedlines, ranging from general temperate, cool temperate and tropical crops (including sugarcane). Imported plants are contained within Biosecurity Containment (BC) level 2 greenhouses and support areas until they have completed the required disease screening. A higher containment, BC3 laboratory and growth room is also available to securely isolate plants suspected of harbouring high-risk diseases while further diagnosis is underway.
Progress on transition
Grow-out of tissue culture plants at Mickleham has shown that bananas grow successfully in these greenhouses.
DAF scientists have developed world’s best practice banana quarantine import process using tissue culture and improved banana diagnostics to safely import banana cultivars. These may be transitioned to Mickleham before 2026. Further updates will be issued when available.
PEQ services for bananas will not be interrupted during the transition. The full transition will occur under the leadership of DAFF Mickleham and Queensland DAF expertise, and with funding from the banana industry R&D levy to 2026 through Hort Innovation.
Contact DAF (bananaPEQ@daf.qld.gov.au) for further information and as the first port of call when planning to import banana plants, or contact ABGC for more information about this process.