QLD Bananas: Positive TR4 diagnosis confirmed

Biosecurity Queensland has today confirmed the worst fears of banana farmers all over the state, as it released the results of a second lot of tests from the sample of trees that initially tested positive for the Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) fungal pathogen in Tully. The batch, sent for additional testing in Darwin in February, has tested positive. “We sent those samples to Darwin for the same type of DNA (PCR) testing and just like our findings last week they have come back positive,” Chief Biosecurity Officer Dr Jim Thompson said in a statement. “It backs up our initial positive diagnosis and supports our approach of immediately quarantining the site.”

The news comes as a team of 40 officers is working at the Tully site to contain the fungal pathogen, hampered by heavy rainfall for two days straight. It also highlights the need for banana growers to ‘Come Clean, Leave Clean,’ according to Dr Thompson, and maintain strict biosecurity practices, inspecting all crops for signs of the disease. There are also three command centres set up to assist growers in how to handle the risk the fungus poses, in Brisbane, South Johnstone and Tully, while the mobile site office remains active all week in Tully (at the IGA carpark, in Morris Street).

No risk from eating banana fruit
While the Tully farm where the TR4 fungus was first detected remains under quarantine conditions imposed last week, Australian Banana Growers Council Chairman Doug Phillips took the opportunity to remind consumers and growers that bananas from other farms and other growing regions remain safe. “While one farm is quarantined, banana farm operations elsewhere in North Queensland and our other banana growing regions are all continuing as usual, including harvesting, packing and transportation of bananas to market,” he said.

TR4 is only passed on through contaminated soil, water or plants, and has been detected in one section of a farm located in Tully. There are 700 farms nationally in Australia, including 280 across Far North Queensland, which remain unaffected.
“That means there is no impact on banana supply or fruit quality and our consumers will be able to continue to buy and enjoy bananas as usual.”

AG minister ‘acutely aware’ of potential damage
Queensland Agricultural Minister Bill Byrne has told the ABC he is ‘acutely aware’ of how devastating the fungal pathogen could be for the $600m per year industry. “From the very moment TR4 was identified, people recognised the seriousness of what this means for the industry," he said. “We are doing everything we can to limit the immediate consequences of this discovery."

The case is being considered under the National Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed, which would allow for cost-shared programs to contain and eradicate the disease, however funding will only be given once the Queensland Government receives the final diagnosis from further tests in coming days. Minister Byrne also confirmed that the Government would seek Commonwealth funding to assist with the process, as current grant arrangements to not meet the profile of the problem.

For more information:
Suspicious findings in Tully or elsewhere in Queensland can be reported to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23
Website: www.daff.qld.gov.au
Biosecurity Queensland facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/biosecurityqld
Biosecurity Queensland twitter account @BiosecurityQld

Publication date:

Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here

Other news in this sector:

© FreshPlaza.com 2021

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber