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Crunch time for Australian banana growers

Australian farmers will know by September if they have won a six-and-a-half year battle to keep Filipino bananas out of Australia

Crunch time for Australian banana growers

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Biosecuity Australia (BA) is expected to decide by September whether or not to allow Philippine banana imports into the country, reports The Cairns Post.

Australian banana growers appealed against BA's suggestion last year that chemical treatment and tighter quarantine surveillance might be enough to allow the bananas into the country. Growers claimed imports represent a major disease threat to their production are now awaiting BA’s final report.

The Australian banana industry maintains that BA’s proposed quarantine measures are experimental and would not stop diseases from Philippine bananas infecting their crops. They fear the proposed measures would effectively hand quarantine responsibility to the Philippines.

Tully grower and Australian Banana Growers Council imports committee chairman Len Collins told The Cairns Post that concern was building, years after Far Northern banana-growing communities first rallied together to oppose imports.

"It’s been hanging over our heads for a long time," Mr Collins said. "It’s something people take into consideration when they go to make an investment, from a new banana bagging machine to land."

Biosecurity Australia’s final draft report is with an import risk assessment panel and is likely to be sent to a team of scientists within weeks. The team will have six weeks to examine the assessment.

"The report then goes back to Biosecurity Australia, possibly with recommendations, and then they put out the final report," Mr Collins said.

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