The Queensland Government has revealed it has spent A$2m (US$1.5m) on it’s response plan to the outbreak of Panama disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4) in the state’s far north, despite suggestions the fungal pathogen will always be present in the region.
The National Management Group (NMG), a peak decision-making body for responses to emergency plant pests incursions, has revealed that it is not “technically feasible” to eradicate the disease. The NMG took into account advice from scientific experts of the Consultative Committee for Emergency Plant Pests and Biosecurity Queensland.
More than 80 staff have been tasked to Biosecurity Queensland to help manage the outbreak, which has so quarantined two banana plantations to date.
“The government is doing everything it can to mitigate the risks of this disease," Queensland agriculture minister Bill Byrne told the ABC. "We're in for the long haul ... I expect that those sorts of expenditures will continue.”
Lat week the Queensland Government announced it would provide more than A$300,000 (US$236,552) to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) to enable them to hire specialist biosecurity advisors to support growers in protecting their properties from TR4. The initiative was requested by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council at the inaugral Queensland Government Panama Disease Taskforce meeting.
“The advisors will work directly with growers to more thoroughly educate them about Panama disease and help them improve on-farm biosecurity practices,” Byrne said in a statement. “While wash-downs and decontamination procedures are practices that all growers should have in place, they are not the only solution. Once the advisors are in place they will work with individual farmers to help them tailor biosecurity plans specific to their operations.”
ABGC chief executive Jim Pekin welcomed the move. “Every banana farm is different and growers will benefit greatly from individualised advice on how to best protect their properties.”