Banana bug fear at farm
QUEENSLAND’S $ 600 million banana industry is on high alert after the latest suspected outbreak of the Panama TR4 virus on a Tully farm.
Biosecurity officials are investigating the “positive” test result on a property near the site of the first reported outbreak of the soil- borne fungus two years ago.
The devastating disease has the potential to wipe out banana crops. About 85 per cent of Australia’s bananas are produced in the Tully region between Cairns and Townsville.
The Australian Banana Growers Council urged growers to ramp up their on- farm biosecurity measures. “The initial molecular test has come back positive. It will be four to six weeks before the definitive test results are known,” ABGC chair Stephen Lowe said.
Panama is not harmful to humans but is lethal to banana crops and can stay undetected in soil for up to 30 years.
Banana growers had to introduce strict quarantine practices after the first outbreak in the same area in March 2015.