In March 2015, Panama disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense tropical race 4 (TR4), was detected on a single farm in Australia’s major banana growing area in north Queensland. This area accounts for 95% of Australian banana production, valued at approximately AU$600 million annually. The soil borne pathogen produces chlamydospores that can survive for decades. It is commonly spread by movement of infected plant material, infested soil and water. There is no cure or treatment for Panama disease tropical race 4.
Biosecurity Queensland, part of Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), in partnership with the Australian Government and the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), mounted a major emergency response. The objectives of the response were to delimit disease distribution in Queensland, prevent disease spread from the affected property, and to encourage active participation in the response to facilitate industry resilience, recovery and sustainability.
The infested property and a linked property remain under quarantine. Initially the affected properties were returned to trade under strict biosecurity conditions. In October 2016, both properties were purchased by the ABGC, all banana plants on the properties were destroyed and risk mitigation measures to prevent disease spread remain in place.
This presentation describes the strategies, based on rigorous scientific knowledge and Queensland’s regulatory framework, being deployed in the emergency response program. The strong partnership between government and industry, with commitment from all stakeholders, gives Queensland a fighting chance to live sustainably with TR4 and minimise its impact.