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Independent review supports Queensland’s approach to Panama disease

News release | 12-Mar-2018

An independent expert has backed the actions taken by Biosecurity Queensland to manage Panama disease in Far North Queensland.

World-renowned Fusarium wilt expert, Professor Altus Viljoen assessed control and containment efforts to date and confirmed that the Program’s approach has been comprehensive and effective.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program leader, Rhiannon Evans said the findings of the review would reassure growers, industry and the local community that protecting farms at the property boundary was currently the best practice biosecurity measure for Panama TR4.

“The independent review praises the extent of the tracing and surveillance methods used by the Program,” she said.

“Tracing identifies the potential spread of the disease through possible risk pathways such as shared machinery, planting material and equipment.

“It’s an intensive process, but essential to our operations as it identifies links to an infested property and helps to prioritise the Program’s surveillance activities.

“We have invested a lot of resources into our tracing and surveillance operations, so it is pleasing to see the review supports these efforts.

“The review also identified innovative ways of detecting the disease on farms such as aerial surveillance and accurate soil and water testing.

“Although these methods are still in the research and development phase, they are definitely methods we could incorporate in the future, and we will keep the industry updated on any developments.

“While the review does not identify how the disease was introduced to Queensland, or how long it may have been here, we remain confident in our current approach to its management.

“The fact that after almost three years we still only have three confirmed infested properties in the same geographical location shows that our rapid response and partnership with industry is succeeding in containing any spread.

“Decontamination at property entry and exits, not moving soil and plant material, and not sharing suckers and bits reduces the risk of spread and protects farms and the wider industry from the disease.

“Biosecurity Queensland is also urging growers to implement effective farm and shed zoning to minimise the risk of disease spread within and off the property.

“Farm zones will cut production downtime. A well-prepared property with established biosecurity measures will be trading again a lot quicker than a farm that has limited or no biosecurity measures in place if the disease is detected.

“There are many resources available to banana growers who need advice on their on-farm biosecurity. Contact the department on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

If you suspect Panama disease in your plants, report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. To find out more about Panama disease tropical race 4 visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.

Panama TR4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. Bananas are still good to eat.

Media contact: , 0466 454 421