AUSTRALIA: New South Wales remains free of two major banana diseases

New South Wales remains free of two major exotic plant diseases which have rocked the banana industries in the Northern Territory and Queensland.


But plantations from the Nambucca to the Tweed will be checked for any sign of the disease Banana Freckle and Panama disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4).



TR4 was discovered in Darwin in 1997 and Queensland remained free of the disease until it was confirmed on a farm near Tully last month.


Banana Freckle on Cavendish bananas was detected on a farm near Darwin in August 2013 and has so far been contained to NT.


The NSW Department of Primary Industries’ director of plant biosecurity Dr Satendra Kumar hopes that no trace of either disease is found in NSW.


“The banana industry is one of those industries which are very biosecurity conscious and the nature of the business means that they are dealing with plant material and a lot of trash, so biosecurity in the banana industry has been reasonably high,” he said.


“In Queensland it appears that the disease [TR4] is limited to one property so that is good news.


“It is timely to not only look at the Freckle disease but also raise the profile of Panama and raise the biosecurity profile of the banana industry as well.”


The NSW DPI and North Coast Local Land Services will deploy officers next week to check for the notifiable diseases.


“At this point in time they are targeting at least 40 properties, but again that depends if we get calls on our hotline then this number will be increased,” he said.


“They are random properties because none of the properties are at risk in NSW however having said that we are trying to cover the whole banana protected zone from up north in Murwillumbah down to Nambucca Heads.”


Dr Kumar said early detection is key to protecting the state’s banana industry.



“If we can contain and eradicate that would be our preferred approach,” he said.


“Some of the diseases may not be easy to eradicate and this why we want to make sure that if the disease is present in NSW that we are able to detect it early.


“Early detection means the probability of containment and eradication is a lot higher.”


Growers who suspect they have plants infected with Banana Freckle or Panama disease TR4 must contact authorities immediately.



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