Ba­nana bug fear at farm

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

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