Battle Against Banana Disease To Be Assisted With New Digital Device

Battle Against Banana Disease To Be Assisted With New Digital Device

Queensland Minister for Energy Mark Bailey

Digital Devices Ready To Reduce Banana Disease Spread

Victor P Taffa

New remotely read Ergon Energy power meters are helping farmers fight the battle against Panama disease in Queensland’s Far North.

Palaszczuk Government is rolling out the digital devices over the coming months, with Ergon Energy due to install up to 600 meters at sites in the Tully and Innisfail areas.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said in light of Panama TR4 biosecurity concerns and strict quarantine measures, Ergon Energy made the decision to stop all entry of their contract meter readers onto farms and use digital meters that could be read remotely.

“Digital meters are a significant step in preventing the spread of Panama disease which is a threat to the region’s important banana industry. There will be no cost to banana producers for the meter switch over.” Minister Bailey said.

“Meters will be read remotely using the 3G/4G telecommunication networks and where availability of those networks is limited, farmers will be asked to perform self-meter reads and communicate that information to Ergon.”

“Digital meters will also allow faster access to data this can be used by farmers to make better decisions on tariff options and improve their energy consumption.” Minister Bailey said.

Few properties are expected to be self-meter reads. Those that are will still be required to have an annual read performed by a meter reader.

Ergon is writing to all affected banana farmers advising access to their properties will be required to install the new meters.

Minister Bailey said Ergon crews would follow strict quarantine measures and go on site at agreed times.

“They will temporarily interrupt power to the property, remove the old meter and install the new one.” Minister Bailey said.

“Ergon will be working to transition all eligible growers to new meters over the next few months.”

About 85 % of Australia’s bananas are produced within a 100-km radius of the Tully Valley, between Cairns and Townsville.

Panama disease is a fungus that affects the tissues of the banana plant that can make the fruit un-marketable and eventually kills the plant.

“It poses a serious threat to Queensland’s banana industry.” Minister Bailey said.

“Digital meters will avoid the need for meter readers to enter properties and therefore prevent the spread of the disease.”

Growers wanting more information on the digital meter program should contact Ergon on 13 74 66 during business hours.

Roll out is expected to be completed by December.


Farmers generally have quarterly and monthly billing:

  • Quarterly for the house on the property (residential),
  • Monthly for the packing shed (the business).

QLD Minister for Energy Mark Bailey









Whether it is cyclones or Banana Panama Disease the economic value of the Banana Industry to Queensland and Australia is enormous as outlined by these facts on the Banana Industry.

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.



QLD                Queensland

NSW               New South Wales

WA                 Western Australia

NT                   Northern Territory