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Australian Banana Growers' Council supports banana freckle response plan in NT

The Australian banana industry's peak industry body is fully supporting pest eradication as part of a newly announced Response Plan targeting a Northern Territory outbreak of the fungal disease Banana Freckle (Phyllosticta cavendishii).

The Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC) said the Response Plan was necessary given the potential threat posed by Banana Freckle if it spread beyond the Northern Territory to Australia's major banana growing regions.

There have been further finds of the disease since the outbreak was
first announced on August 26. Banana Freckle has now been found on a
total of nine Northern Territory properties in two separate areas south
east of Darwin, including a one-hectare banana farm. When the outbreak
was first announced it had been found on two rural residential
properties in the one area. ABGC Chairman Doug Phillips said the
Response Plan announced by the Northern Territory Government today was
both welcome and necessary. He said it was important to move quickly
given that the Northern Territory's wet season officially starts on
November 1 and Banana Freckle spreads through the movement of infected
spores carried in rain splashes.

"The ABGC has been working with government and other industry groups as
part of a Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests to address
this exotic pest outbreak and ABGC fully supports the Northern Territory
Government's Response Plan," Mr Phillips said. "Banana Freckle is a
serious banana plant disease as has been shown by the significant damage
it has caused to banana production in areas of south-east Asia."

The objective of the Response Plan is to contain the extent of the pest
and eradicate it, based on surveillance, quarantine, movement controls,
destruction of host plants (all banana varieties) and later, tracing and
surveillance to confirm freedom from the pest.

Key points of the Response Plan, which is being implemented by the
Northern Territory Government's Department of Primary Industry and
Fisheries, include:

* quarantine of the infected properties preventing the movement of
banana fruit or banana plants
* creation of a Restricted Area (RA) covering a one-kilometre radius
around the infected properties, where growing and planting of bananas
will be prohibited. All banana plants within this area will be destroyed
* creation of a larger Control Area (CA) covering a five kilometre
radius around the epicentre of infected properties, where planting and
movement of bananas will be prohibited for 12 months
* once eradication operations in the RAs are completed, surveillance of
surrounding properties within a two-kilometre radius of infected
properties will be done for 12 months.

This will be the first banana industry Response under the Emergency
Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD). Under the deed, the cost of the
eradication will be shared by government and the banana and plant
nursery industries. The banana industry's share of the current budget
for the Emergency Response is about $500,000.

A process for all national banana levy payers to fund such a response
was put in place recently and growers will be fully consulted when
details are at hand.

For more information:
Rhyll Cronin
Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC)
Tel: +66 07 32784786
Mobile: +66 0428 038 330

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