Current Panama TR4 situation

Palaszczuk Government backs banana industry

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

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 almost four years, we have been very successful in containing the disease to just three 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 Australian Banana Growers’ Council to progress the development of a first-of-its-kind partnership agreement to fund, deliver, design and govern the Panama TR4 Program in Queensland.

The ABGC is working closely with growers to ensure they are informed and engaged on this important next phase.

Read more about the partnership agreement.

For the full media release visit here.

Understanding the challenges of Panama TR4 on-farm

Over the past four years, banana growers have faced many challenges in managing Panama TR4.

Now, Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council want to hear how Panama TR4 has affected them and their and farms.

We want growers to have their say. That way we can make sure we are doing the best job to assist them and the broader banana industry in controlling and containing the disease.

The Panama TR4 Program has engaged a fully independent, Queensland-based research organisation - Proof Research - to understand these impacts.

Proof Research is contacting growers to ask them to participate in an interview and data from this will be used to inform future strategies to benefit the industry. Growers who participate are also compensated for their time.

For more informationcontact Sarah Flenley, Communications and Engagement Manager, Panama TR4 Program on 07 4091 8159 or email sarah.flenley@daf.qld.gov.au

Options for farming on Panama TR4 affected land

If you want to grow crops other than bananas or graze livestock on a parcel of land on a farm that has been confirmed with Panama TR4, Biosecurity Queensland will work with you to conduct a risk assessment to see what is possible.

The risk assessment will determine if the parcel of land could be contaminated with Panama TR4 and, based on the assessment, we’ll tailor certain biosecurity requirements for your farm and the situation. It’s all about minimising the risk of disease spread both within and off your property.

We’ll work with you to meet the biosecurity requirements to ensure adequate measures are being taken to protect your farm and the wider industry.

To find out more about the process, check out the fact sheets:

Infested properties

Three commercial banana farms in the Tully Valley in Far North Queensland are confirmed with Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4)

The first infested farm was purchased by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) in October 2016 under an industry levy with additional Commonwealth funding and the farm was closed down.

Biosecurity Queensland continues to work with the business owners of the two operating farms while they continue to trade and meet their on-going biosecurity requirements. This is to reduce the risk of the disease spreading and to protect the wider industry.

Timeline of events

  • 3 March 2015, Panama TR4 was detected in Cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully Valley, Far North Queensland
  • 01 July 2016, the Biosecurity Act 2014 came into effect. Under the new legislation, restrictions continue to apply to infested properties and properties suspected of having Panama TR4.
  • 26 July 2017, a second property was confirmed with Panama TR4
  • 08 February 2018, a third property was confirmed with Panama TR4

Be #PanamaTR4 ready

We all need to work together to protect our banana farms and our communities.

  • Banana grower
  • Banana farm worker
  • Community member
  • Service provider

Visit the Panama TR4 ready website for information about preparing for Panama TR4.

Being Panama TR4 ready can be as simple as:

  • having effective biosecurity measures in place
  • not entering a banana farm without permission
  • coming clean and leaving clean from farms
  • reporting sick plants to 13 25 23.

For more information contact the Panama TR4 Program on 07 4091 8140 or email panamatr4@daf.qld.gov.au.

What the Queensland Government is doing

The Queensland Government wants our growers to keep selling bananas. That’s why we’re working with Australian Banana Growers’ Council, banana growers and the community to raise awareness of the disease and mitigate the risk of disease spread as much as possible.

Panama TR4 is a challenging disease to manage. It’s easily spread and can survive dormant in the soil for decades.

There is no cure. Only prevention.

Early detection through regular surveillance and good on-farm biosecurity are the most effective ways to protect banana farms from the spread of Panama TR4.

Surveillance

We continue to undertake scheduled surveillance on the infested farms and farms across Far North Queensland. Learn more about our Panama TR4 surveillance.

Growers who regularly check their own plants for signs of Panama TR4, may extend their farm viability. Learn how to check your plants for Panama TR4. Contact the Panama TR4 Program for a Panama TR4 disease identification guide on 07 4091 8140 or email panamatr4@daf.qld.gov.au.

On-farm biosecurity

We’ve been visiting growers and talking through their requirements about preparing and/or protecting their farms from Panama TR4.

By putting in place strong biosecurity measures, growers can resume trading quickly if the disease is detected on their property.

We can help you to develop practices and processes that work best on your farm. If you’d like us to visit your farm contact the Panama TR4 Program on (07) 4091 8140 or panamatr4@daf.qld.gov.au.

The grower kit has more information about on-farm biosecurity.

Rate your Panama TR4 readiness with the on-farm biosecurity checklist.

If you suspect Panama TR4 in banana plants report them immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Keep up to date with Panama TR4 in Far North Queensland by subscribing to our newsletters and alerts.

Managing Panama TR4 for the future

In 2018, an independent review of the Panama TR4 Program (Program) was undertaken by ACIL Allen Consulting to make recommendations as to a fair and realistic model for managing Panama TR4 going forward.

The review included elements of the Program that could be reduced or ceased and how they should be delivered, recorded and funded.

The report found that the Program has been successful in controlling and containing Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) and slowing the spread of the disease.

The major contributor to this success was the joint approach taken by government, industry, growers and other key stakeholders to contain the impact of the disease.

The report confirmed the importance of this approach, stating that the program should continue, but must be based on a partnership of shared responsibility between government and industry.

A shared approach

A working group formed between the Program and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (the ABGC) is progressing acollaborative agreement to jointly fund and deliver the Program in Queensland.

The agreement includes moving towards the implementation of a 50:50 shared funding arrangement between government and industry over the next three to five years.

It 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.

This type of agreement will be the first of its kind for Biosecurity Queensland and the industry. It aligns with the key theme of the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy of collaborative governance and leadership.

The focus is on this agreement being signed by government and industry by 30 June 2019. The Queensland Government will be working closely with the ABGC to ensure growers are informed and engaged on this important next phase.