Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has expressed his serious concern about the reported identification of Panama Tropical Race 4 at a banana farm in the Tully district and said the issue posed a serious challenge for the banana industry and local communities.
Mr Cripps said he understood samples of the suspected case of Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 have been sent for further testing for final confirmation and if confirmed, there would be significant implications for local banana growers and the community in the Tully district.
“Tropical Race 4 (TR4) infects Cavendish variety and is a serious threat to the North Queensland industry, as it’s considered to be one of, if not the most destructive disease affecting bananas, having a devastating impact on production” said Mr Cripps.
“However, one thing that should be made absolutely clear is that TR4 is a disease of the banana plant – the fruit is completely unaffected and consumers can be reassured that there are no human health issues – so people can keep eating their bananas” he said.
Mr Cripps said there were other important messages that needed to be understood by the local community and the banana industry as a whole in North Queensland:
- Growers in the region are being alerted and are being asked to review and apply best – practice biosecurity arrangements on their own farms.
- The Queensland Government has strict regulations in place for plant protection measures, which should be observed by growers and industry participants.
- The Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) and Biosecurity Queensland will keep growers informed on developments on this issue as they occur.
“I want to assure growers, employees and the people of the Tully district, that I will do everything I can to support this iconic Australian industry, by working with the ABGC and all levels of government to respond to this serious threat to our community” said Mr Cripps.
“The banana industry is no stranger to serious biosecurity responses and I have great admiration for the professionalism and capacity for our growers and industry leaders, but we will need the full support of all North Queenslanders to meet this challenge” he said.