Panama disease confirmed on third property in the Tully Valley

Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed a third detection of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) on a commercial banana farm in the Tully Valley.

Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner said a final vegetative compatibility group test had provided a definitive result.

The confirmation follows the initial positive molecular test on a plant sample that placed the property under suspicion in late January 2018.

Minister Furner assured growers that whilst the third detection was challenging for the banana industry in Far North Queensland, the industry should remain positive.

“I urge growers to stay committed and maintain their on-farm biosecurity measures to protect and prepare their farms from Panama disease,” he said.

“The rigorous biosecurity protocols implemented by Biosecurity Queensland to control and contain the disease are underpinned by world class scientific methods, and are proven to be the most effective methods to mitigate the spread of the disease.

“As the new detection is in the same geographical location as the previous two infested farms, we are confident that our containment measures have been effective so far.

“Queensland has had greater success in controlling and containing the disease compared with anywhere else in the world.”

Minister Furner said the banana industry was the life blood of Far North Queensland and the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to the region remains steadfast.

“We have invested more than $27 million to contain and manage Panama TR4 since it was first detected in March 2015,” he said.

“This includes a $3.5 million commitment late last year towards increased surveillance, research and development projects and a feral pig coordination initiative.

“The Queensland Government will continue to invest in research and development programs while working with industry to manage and contain the disease, with a view to developing long term solutions.”

Minister Furner said the Queensland Government and the banana industry continues to build on knowledge and experience gained in the first and second detections.

He attributed minimal farm downtime on the third infested property to a prompt response by Biosecurity Queensland officers and the farm already having an established on-farm biosecurity plan.

“Once the farm was suspected of having Panama TR4, Biosecurity Queensland staff worked closely with the business owner to implement additional measures so they could meet their biosecurity obligations,” he said.

“The farm was trading again after only a few days of downtime and the department will continue to support the business owner to trade and meet their ongoing biosecurity obligations during this challenging time.

“High intensity surveillance is continuing on the property to determine the possible extent of the disease, and tracing and on-farm investigations are underway to determine the risk of disease spread through items such as shared machinery and equipment or planting material.”

Panama TR4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. Bananas are Australia’s number one selling supermarket product and are still enjoyed by consumers.

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