Australia: ABGC in landmark banana farm purchase to control TR4 -

Australia: ABGC in landmark banana farm purchase to control TR4

The Australian Banana Grower’s Council (ABGC) has made a landmark purchase of a Tully property in Queensland, in a bid to control the spread of Panama disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4).

The ABGC has signed a conditional sales agreement that will enable the eventual close of operations on the only known TR4 affected property in Queensland. The disease was confirmed on the farm in March 2015.

ABGC chairman Doug Phillips said the group had been working for many months on the strategy, which was seen as the best way to protect the most productive banana region in the country.

"Ninety-three per cent of Australia’s bananas are grown in north Queensland," he said.

"It is absolutely vital that we do everything in our power to protect the industry from any further spread of this disease."

"The purchase, and eventual closure of this property will limit the movement of soil, and thus limit the spread of TR4."

Developments follow 'intensive negotiations' with the owners of the infected property and with the Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The Federal Government has committed one-third of the funding, and the ABGC will ask growers to fund the other two-thirds via a levy.

Phillips said the association's focus was now to run a national levy ballot to fund TR4 containment and management including its share of the purchase of the infected farm.

"The ABGC will be meeting with banana growers in a series of grower meetings across the country," Phillips said.

"I commend those who have brought us this far. It has been a challenging time in terms of setting the best path for biosecurity management in the face of such a potentially destructive disease.

"The Federal Government’s one third contribution to this purchase is very welcome. It has also been a difficult situation for the family who have owned and worked the infected farm. I certainly acknowledge the ongoing stress they have been under since TR4 was discovered there."