Queensland Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne
Palaszczuk Government Continues Panama TR4 Fight
Victor P Taffa
Palaszczuk Government has provided almost $400,000 to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) to assist with the closure of the banana farm in Far North Queensland infected with Panama TR4.
Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne reiterated the Government’s commitment to the $600 Million banana industry.
“Since the disease was first detected the government has spent over $22 Million on the response and ongoing Panama TR4 Program and committed nearly 40 staff to the Program to work with growers and the community.” Mr. Byrne said.
“We committed $7.3 Million including $5.2 Million in new funding in the 2016-17 budget to be spent on continuing to contain the infestation, conducting surveillance to determine the extent of the outbreak, and undertaking research to assist industry manages the longer term impacts of the disease.”
“We continue to work in a strong partnership with the industry to manage and contain this potentially devastating disease.” Mr. Byrne said.
“Next phase of the operation will see the program continue surveillance across the entire northern banana production zone, build greater industry and community awareness of, and commitment to, their general biosecurity obligation, and continue to monitor activities on the affected property to ensure strict biosecurity procedures are adhered to.”
“Every effort has been made to ensure TR4 does not spread and we acknowledge the efforts growers are taking to protect their farms.”
“Threat has been with us since the disease was first confirmed in March 2015 and although there have been no further confirmed detections outside the one property, growers understand they will face a challenging future operating in the presence of Panama disease tropical race 4 for many years to come.” Mr. Byrne said.
“Palaszczuk Government’s firm commitment is to continue to support our banana growers wherever it can.”
This latest funding is being invested to strengthen the current perimeter fence, destroy remaining banana plants on the affected property and establish ground cover to prevent run-off.
ABGC purchased the affected property in October last year and immediately ceased all farming operations.
Minister Byrne said Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program was heavily involved in on-ground operations during the farm’s closure.
“Our officers supervised the movement of machinery and equipment off the property, to verify it was free from any soil, plant material or other contamination that could potentially spread the disease.” Mr. Byrne said.
“Staff is also continuing to monitor activities on the property to ensure it is being managed in line with the requirements of Queensland’s Biosecurity Manual.”
“Maintaining strict biosecurity measures on the affected farm and working collaboratively with the ABGC to promote and support the adoption of on-farm biosecurity more broadly across the industry have played a key role in so far containing Panama disease tropical race 4 to one property in Queensland.” Mr. Byrne said.
“However, growers must not be complacent. Maintaining effective on-farm biosecurity and prompt reporting of any plants showing signs of disease will be critical to the continued management of this significant risk to the banana industry and the communities that rely on it.”
“Rapid detection and destruction of infected plants slows down the spread of the disease and increases growers’ chances of extending the profitability of their farms.” Mr. Byrne said.