Banana freckle disease has been discovered in the Northern Territory, sparking fears of an outbreak that could threaten the local banana industry. It is the first discovery of the disease since Australia was declared banana freckle-free in 2019. The fungal disease causes rough sandpaper-like spots to form on banana plants and their fruit.
The first case of the new outbreak was discovered two weeks ago in the Batchelor-Rum Jungle area, about 105km south of Darwin. At least two more cases have since been discovered.
The CEO of NT Farmers, Paul Burke, says that widespread monitoring of the NT’s “Top End” had not uncovered any more cases but authorities remain on alert: “We’ve set up a high-level steering committee that includes nursery and garden associations, the banana industry council, both levels of government and NT farmers. We don’t have a plan yet, but we are working on it. And certainly industry is very conscious of the previous incursion, and ensuring that we don’t make the same mistakes.”