Strict rules have been introduced to stop the spread of a potentially devastating banana fungus that took the Australian industry by surprise. Banana freckle disease has re-emerged in the Northern Territory, sparking fears the outbreak could threaten the banana industry.
This is the first time the fungal disease, which leaves a spotty, sandpaper texture on the fruit, has emerged since 2019. So far, 17 properties have identified the disease, 16 of which are in the Batchelor and Rum Jungle areas around 95km south of Darwin, and in one other remote property.
The previous banana freckle outbreak in 2013 was officially eradicated by 2019, however the latest infections have the banana industry worried. Provisions are in place to stop travellers spreading the disease across the country, with banana produce banned from crossing state borders.
Northern Territory Farmers Association Chief Executive, Paul Burke, told 3AW banana freckle wasn’t expected to make its comeback this quickly: “We were certainly pretty confident that we had banana freckle in the rear vision mirror. It just goes to show that biosecurity is such an important part of any business nowadays.”
Commercial banana farmers in the region are unable to move their produce as fears of spreading the disease increase, leaving them with little to no business or income.