Colombians visit Queensland to learn about Panama TR4

Colombian government and banana industry representatives have travelled to Far North Queensland to see first-hand how we have contained Panama disease to just three farms in four years.

Colombia is one of the biggest banana-producing countries in the world, and recently Panama TR4 has been suspected on a Colombia banana plantation.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Queensland was recognised internationally for its success in preventing rapid spread of the disease and Colombia could learn valuable lessons from our program.

“When Panama TR4 was first detected here we looked to the international banana community for their expert advice, and now it’s our turn to return the favour,” Mr Furner said.

While visiting a Panama TR4-infested farm, Colombian delegates saw the strict biosecurity protocols around the destruction of infested plants, which are critical to limiting spread of the disease.

They also saw best-practice biosecurity measures that allow a grower to keep trading but minimise risk of disease spread.

Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA) Director of Plant Health, Mr Jorge Hernan Palacino said for the past few years they had been closely watching how Queensland has managed Panama TR4.

“What we saw today was simple, straight forward solutions to complex problems,” Mr Palacino said.

“We have been working with our growers to build up their on-farm biosecurity and will take these Queensland ideas and adapt them to our farms.”

Cenibanano Augura researcher, Mr Jorge Vargas said that the information presented gave them hope.

“The banana industry in Colombia employs many people, both directly and indirectly. We have been watching very closely what Queensland has done as we are concerned if the disease is confirmed in Colombia,” Mr Vargas said.

The delegation, a mix of government and banana industry representatives, also toured the South Johnstone Centre for Wet Tropics where they learnt about research and development into Panama TR4 resistant varieties.

/Public Release. View in full here.