The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) is considering a buy-out bid for a North Queensland banana farm infested with the Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease.
Doug Phillips, chairman of ABGC, confirmed the peak industry body had entered negotiations with the farm’s owners over the purchase of the 166ha Tully Valley property so banana production can be discontinued, decreasing the risk of the disease spreading.
Phillips said a buy-out and closure would be the best solution for the farm’s owners, the Robson family, along with other banana growers and suppliers.
“The ABGC believes it is in the best interests of the overall banana industry that farming be discontinued on the property as soon as possible,” Phillips said in a press release. “The spores that cause TR4 live in the soil and can multiply quickly when banana plants present. This means that a farm closure would reduce the risks of inoculum levels increasing and of TR4-infested soil being moved during farming operations.”
Since TR4 was first detected on the farm in March 2015 there have been two other outbreaks recorded at the property. To date no other farms have been found to be infested.
“The Robson family did the right thing by reporting the suspect banana plants on their property earlier this year and they have endured financial and emotional hardship as a result of their farm being quarantined for Panama TR4,” Phillips explained.
Phillips said the next step in the discussions would be negotiating a proposed sale price for the farm and then determining if sufficient funds could be raised.
“The ABGC will keep banana growers and our industry partners informed on the progress of discussions,” he added.