Banana growers in Australia’s Northern Territory will be compensated for the loss of their crops as part of a new national response plan aimed at eradicating the Banana Freckle pest disease.
The plan includes a programmed destruction of banana plant material in selected zones of the territory, which will take place over the next seven months. It is understood that a zone has been set up around the greater Darwin region, which would see the removal of all banana plants north of Manton Dam. This would include the Northern Territory’s largest banana plantation, the Darwin Banana Farm.
However, the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries has indicated that all commercial plantations and nurseries affected by the removal of plants would be able to apply for owner reimbursement costs under the national Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. Five commercial businesses have already been identified as being potentially eligible for compensation.
“There will be impacts on banana industry and nursery businesses and short term inconvenience for residents in eradication zones who will be unable to grow their own bananas while we work to make the Territory freckle free,” said Stephen West, chief plant health manager at the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry. “However, our focus must be on ensuring a viable banana industry with a bright future.”
Biosecurity officials have been working to eradicate the disease since it was first discovered last year. The response plan has been developed by a national group that includes the Australian federal and Northern Territory governments, along with several industry groups, including the Australian Banana Growers’ Council. Around A$26m (US$22m) will be invested in implementing the plan over the next four years.