Panama disease tropical race 4 still contained after four years

With only three Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4) infested farms in Far North Queensland in the past four years, the containment response has so far been a very welcome success.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said this was largely due to the combined efforts of industry, government, and research bodies working together.

“Right from the first detection in March 2015, government and industry collaborated to ensure world’s best practice in the management of TR4 to support our growers and protect the region’s $600 million industry,” Mr Furner said.

“Biosecurity Queensland surveillance teams walked nearly 24,000 hectares last year looking for signs of the disease and our compliance officers have worked closely with the infested farms so the wider industry is not put at risk.

“Our Plant Biosecurity Laboratory scientists have achieved gold standard in TR4 diagnostics and continue to test banana plant samples to determine if the disease is present.

“In aspects of disease containment and management, new research was needed to fill the knowledge gaps.

“This included field trials on over 3,200 plants for TR4 resistant varieties, an update by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council of the quality banana planting material scheme, and improved soil management systems.”

Mr Furner said growers were to be commended for their hard work to protect their farms.

“But there is absolutely no room for complacency when dealing with Panama TR4,” he said.

“Panama TR4 is a really difficult disease to manage. There is no cure and the disease can be easily spread in contaminated soil and water and in infected planting material.

“The disease is one of the greatest threats to worldwide banana production. It continues to spread around the world and it has devastated industries and livelihoods both in Australia and overseas.

“Four years on, we are happy that the disease has not spread any further but we are still urging growers to continue to be vigilant with their farm biosecurity as it remains one of the best ways to protect their farms from Panama TR4.”

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