Queensland Banana Industry To Be Protected From Pests And Diseases

Queensland Banana Industry To Be Protected From Pests And Diseases

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt

Queensland Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne

$15.9 Million Project To Boost Banana Defences

Victor P Taffa

Palaszczuk Government is to partner with the banana industry in a $15.9 Million project to better protect future crops from pests and disease.

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, Curtis Pitt, said the initiative would benefit banana growers and those employed in the industry’s supply and distribution chain.

Treasurer Pitt said the Improved Plant Protection for the Banana Industry project will include trials of varieties with better pest and disease resistance.

“This initiative with the horticultural sector’s grower-owned R&D and marketing organisation, Horticulture Innovation Australia, will bolster support to banana producers.” Treasurer Pitt said.

“It will be managed by the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and will work towards developing access to banana varieties with improved pest and disease resilience.”

“Plant protection from pests and diseases is an integral part of agricultural production systems, as it affects many aspects including risk of crop failures, fruit quality and market access.” Treasurer Pitt said.

“We have responded quickly and effectively to the Panama Tropical Race 4, but we can take nothing for granted because bananas are a vital part of the nation’s food industry and play an important economic role here in Queensland as well as in New South Wales and Western Australia.”

Treasurer Pitt said the Australian Banana Growers’ Council advised that at present there were minimal exports of bananas.

“However, further industry development and projects like the new project with HIA may one day open up new overseas markets.” Treasurer Pitt said.

“If and when that happens, Cairns and in particular Cairns Airport, would be a natural export gateway to get fresh bananas quickly to potential export markets.”

Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said a successful project outcome could see substantial industry growth, creating significant jobs growth in production regions, and protection of existing jobs through better management of potentially devastating pests and diseases.

“Bananas are one of our most important crops but the outbreak of Panama Tropical Race 4 in 2015 put the spotlight on their vulnerability to disease.” Mr. Byrne said.

“I am extremely proud that the biosecurity response put in place by the Palaszczuk Government, working hand in glove with producers and the industry, has been so successful.”

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ General Manager, Horticulture and Forestry Science Michael Kennedy said the project would address four main themes.

“Improved Plant Protection for the Banana Industry project will provide access to trials of banana varieties with improved pest, disease, agronomic and consumer preference traits.” Dr. Kennedy said.

“It will also ensure access to clean planting material, providing facilities and processes for new banana cultivars to be safely imported into Australia; improve banana integrinated pest and disease management; and bring together the network of scientists working in the plant protection field of the Australian banana industry.”

The project builds on the outcomes and successes from a recently completed University of Queensland and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ and Horticulture Innovation Australia collaboration, and has gone through an extensive consultation process between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and other project partners and industry.

Horticulture Innovation Australia chief executive John Lloyd said more than 5 years of research to support the banana industry to date has proven invaluable when dealing with disease incursions.

Mr. Lloyd said this new research would arm industry with the tools it needs to continue to meet consumer demand and combat pest and disease threats well into the future.

“Australian banana industry is thriving with the fruit being one of the top-selling supermarket snacking items in the country.”

“What this research will do is ensure the industry’s vitality for years to come by strengthening its biosecurity defences through the development of new varieties while focussing on even lower chemical usage in line with consumer expectations.” Mr. Lloyd said.

Anticipated project completion date is December 2021.

QLD Treasurer Curtis Pitt

QLD Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Industry Facts

According to the Queensland Government, Queensland produced more than 95% of Australia’s bananas in 2014-15.

According to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC)

Economic Contribution

In 2015/16, 690 banana farms (of more than 0.5ha) marketed a record 393,000 tonnes (based on national levy figures). 371,000t plus was marketed in 2014/15, which was also a record year.

The following table shows significant increases in Queensland as the dominant producing State, over the last two decades.

Australian Banana Production (tonnes)

Year                QLD               NSW               WA                 NT                  Total

1995                149,300           49,100             16,200             1,100               215,700

2005                253,000           7,900               3,500               100                  264,500

2015                353,500           16,000             1,000*             500*                371,000

*Cyclone Olwyn destroyed Carnarvon’s production and the Freckle eradication program meant all NT banana plants in the Top End were destroyed.

Abbreviations

QLD                Queensland

NSW               New South Wales

WA                 Western Australia

NT                   Northern Territory