Banana growers ask community to ‘get in the zone’ and help protect against Panama TR4 this Christmas

News release | 18-Dec-2020

Don’t enter banana farms.

This message is top of the Christmas list for North Queensland banana growers who have come together to ask the community for help with protecting their farms from Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4).

Joining forces with Biosecurity Queensland and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) to spread the message through a series of videos titled ‘Get in the Zone’, banana growers are sharing their story about what biosecurity is, and how everyone can play their part in protecting farms.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program Leader, Rhiannon Evans said the videos were in response to grower demand for greater community awareness.

“What someone may think is a harmless photo opportunity or a nice place to pull up at a banana farm could be the catalyst to spreading pests and disease on that property,” said Ms Evans.

“The North Queensland community relies on the banana industry for economic stability, so we all need to understand our role in protecting our farms from Panama TR4 and spread the word that it’s not okay to go onto a banana farm without permission.”

In anticipation of an influx of tourists coming to the North following border re-openings this Christmas, fourth generation growers Shayne and Blaise Cini of Edari Bananas featured in the videos to try and build awareness of why biosecurity is so important.

“People need to understand they can’t just go on to a banana farm,” said Mr Cini who believes that shoes and tyres are the two most preventable ways of spreading the soil borne fungal disease. 

“Panama TR4 is the biggest threat that industry’s facing today and we’re doing all we can to prevent an incursion on our property.

“We’re just asking everyone around us to help do their best as well by respecting farm biosecurity.” 

For service providers and workers who have permission to go onto a banana farm, ‘Get in the Zone’ aims to help people understand why farm biosecurity rules are so important, and to come clean and leave clean when visiting a property.Tropicana Banana North Queensland manager Gavin Eilers joined the initiative to correct misguided beliefs about Panama TR4.

“I’ve had people show up on my farm in utes covered with dirt and think it’s okay because they haven’t come from another banana farm, which is wrong,” said Mr Eilers.

“Panama TR4 is an invisible enemy which could be in any dirt from anywhere.”

Tully banana grower and Chair of the ABGC, Stephen Lowe said that Christmas was the perfect time to offer support to growers by pledging a commitment to biosecurity.

“Largely, people living in Far North Queensland are beneficiaries of our banana farms in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, and we would ask them to share the biosecurity message as it could go a long way in helping us fight Panama TR4,” Mr Lowe said.

Watch the videos at PanamaTR4protect.com.au and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council Facebook page.

Media contact: DAF Media, media@daf.qld.gov.au