Latest Panama TR4 news

Panama disease tropical race 4 confirmed on fourth commercial banana farm

26 February 2020

A fourth case of Panama TR4 on a Tully Valley farm in north Queensland has been confirmed by a final conclusive test.

The vegetative compatibility group (VCG) test is considered the ‘gold standard’ for identifying Panama disease tropical race 4 and follows the initial positive DNA-based (PCR) molecular test in early February.

When Panama TR4 is confirmed on a property the grower must meet immediate biosecurity requirements before being able to trade. Thanks to an existing high standard of on-farm biosecurity measure, and with support from a dedicated team of biosecurity officers, this farm resumed trading within four working days.

Read the Media Release

Biosecurity is everyone’s business

Biosecurity Queensland is urging all growers to maintain their vigilance in the wake of the fourth detection of Panama TR4. On-farm biosecurity is the best way to protect a farm from #PanamaTR4 as well as reporting any sick plants immediately to 13 25 23.

Residents in, and visitors, to the region are also being asked to be vigilant and never enter a banana farm without permission. People and machinery movement are the biggest threat of disease spread.

Infested properties

26 February 2020

Four commercial banana farms in the Tully Valley in Far North Queensland are confirmed with Panama TR4.

Panama TR4 was first detected in Cavendish banana plants in Far North Queensland’s Tully Valley in March 2015. A second property was confirmed in July 2017, a third in February 2018 and a fourth in February 2020. All four infested properties are in close proximity to each other. The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) purchased the first infested farm in October 2016. This purchase was funded through an industry levy with additional Commonwealth funding and the farm was subsequently closed down.

Biosecurity Queensland continues to work with the business owners of the three operating farms while they continue to trade and meet their on-going biosecurity requirements.

Banana growers, the ABGC and the Panama TR4 Program team are working together to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to protect the wider industry.

Biosecurity Queensland officers find new case of suspected Panama TR4

5th February 2020

A new suspect case of Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) has been detected by Biosecurity Queensland officers on a Tully Valley banana farm in Far North Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland officers identified banana plants that displayed symptoms typical of Panama TR4 during a routine inspection of the property in late January 2020.

With one sample from the suspect plants returning a positive result to a preliminary test on Tuesday 4 February 2020 this becomes a suspected case of Panama TR4. While this result indicates strong evidence of the presence of the disease, further detailed diagnostic testing is needed to provide a conclusive result. This can take between two to four weeks. Read about Diagnosing Panama TR4.

The suspect property is in close proximity to the three previously confirmed infested Panama TR4 properties in the Tully Valley. If confirmed, it will be only the fourth infested property in Queensland since the disease was first detected in the state in 2015.

The grower has been notified and must now meet set regulatory biosecurity requirements to minimise the risk of disease spread.

This suspect detection is a timely reminder for us all to do what we can.

Biosecurity Queensland is:

  • establishing a dedicated team to work with the grower to meet these requirements and reduce production downtime
  • working with Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) to manage the risk of disease spread to the rest of the industry; and
  • carrying out tracing and surveillance to determine the possible extent of the disease on the property, and on other linked land parcels.


  • Check your current on-farm biosecurity measures are working (fences, signs, footbaths etc….)
  • Manage how people and vehicles move on your property – set up an exclusion, separation and farming zone. Read the Banana best management practices to find out more.
  • If you need help on the best way to manage your on-farm biosecurity:
    • talk to other growers or your ABGC representative
    • call Tegan Kukelies at Agri-Science Queensland on 07 4220 4152 to arrange an on-farm visit; or
    • call Rebecca Breaden at Biosecurity Queensland on 07 4091 8140 or drop-in to the Biosecurity Queensland office at 2-20 Moresby Road, Moresby.

If growers see plants with symptoms of Panama TR4 call Biosecurity Queensland immediately to 13 25 23. Early detection and destruction of infected plants helps to slow disease spread and can extend the on-going viability of a farm. Read the Panama TR4 Grower’s kit for more information.

Community members:

  • Never enter a banana farm without permission
  • If you have permission, come clean and leave clean and follow farm rules
  • Remember, the disease does not affect the fruit. Bananas are still good to eat.

On-farm biosecurity is the best way to protect a farm and the industry from Panama TR4.

The Queensland Government and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council have worked together to control and contain the disease since 2015 and are developing a partnership agreement to jointly fund and deliver the Panama TR4 Program until 2023 The Queensland Government will continue to stand with the banana industry to manage the challenges of Panama TR4.

Panama TR4 Program and Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) form a partnership agreement

The Panama TR4 Program and the ABGC are developing a partnership agreement to jointly fund and deliver the Program in Queensland until June 2023.

This type of agreement will be the first of its kind for Biosecurity Queensland and the industry. It aligns with one of the themes from the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy— collaborative governance and leadership.

The Panama TR4 Program and ABGC have worked together to manage this disease from the first detection in 2015. This agreement is a natural progression to formalise this collaborative working relationship.

Benefits to industry

  • Co-managing opportunity for how Panama TR4 is contained and controlled.
  • Overseeing an effective and efficient program by managing expenditure and determining priorities.
  • Developing resilience and stability for the program and the banana industry.

The Panama TR4 Program has successfully controlled and contained the disease for over four years. This unparalleled achievement has been due to the collective action of Biosecurity Queensland, the ABGC, individual growers, research bodies, and the wider community.

Queensland Government backs banana industry

02 April 2019

The Queensland Government has backed Queensland’s banana industry with an almost $12.1 million boost over 5 years to the fight against Panama TR4.

The Panama TR4 Program will continue until 2022–23 under a cost-sharing agreement between Biosecurity Queensland and the industry through the ABGC. Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said a recent independent review of the Panama TR4 Program confirmed the importance of tackling the disease in partnership with industry.

“The review stated that the program should continue but must be based on shared responsibility between government and industry,” Mr. Furner said.

“For over 4 years, we have been very successful in containing the disease to just 3 farms in close proximity to each other. A major factor in that success has been the joint approach taken by government, industry, growers, and other key stakeholders.

Biosecurity Queensland is establishing a working group with the ABGC to progress the development of a first-of-its-kind partnership agreement to fund, deliver, design and govern the Panama TR4 Program in Queensland.

This agreement will give industry an opportunity to shape its future. By having a seat at the table, industry can share the decisions on how Panama TR4 is contained and controlled in Far North Queensland. The Queensland Government is working closely with the ABGC and growers to ensure they are informed and engaged on this important next phase

For the full media release visit here.

Options for farming on Panama TR4 affected land

Alternative farming options are available for banana growers on Panama TR4 affected land.

Growing crops, other than bananas, or grazing livestock on a parcel of land that has been confirmed with Panama TR4 may be possible, and Biosecurity Queensland can help assess the situation to see what options are available.

A risk assessment will determine if the parcel of land could be contaminated with Panama TR4, and, based on the assessment, Biosecurity Queensland will tailor the biosecurity requirements for the farm and the situation.

Growers need to meet certain biosecurity requirements and Biosecurity Queensland will work with growers to meet them.

This is to ensure adequate measures are being taken to protect the farm and the wider industry.

Download these fact sheets for more information.