THE response to the recent Panama detection at commercial banana plantations in Tully has been praised by an independent expert, who praised measures put in place by Biosecurity Queensland to stop it spreading.
World-renowned Fusarium wilt expert, Professor Altus Viljoen assessed control and containment efforts to date and confirmed that the program’s approach had been comprehensive and effective.
Biosecurity Queensland’s Panama TR4 Program leader Rhiannon Evans said the findings of the review would reassure growers and the industry that protecting farms at the property boundary was currently the best practice biosecurity measure for Panama TR4.
“The independent review praises the extent of the tracing and surveillance methods used by the program,” Ms Evans said.
“Tracing identifies the potential spread of the disease through possible risk pathways such as shared machinery, planting material and equipment.
“It’s an intensive process, but essential to our operations as it identifies links to an infested property and helps to prioritise the program’s surveillance activities.”
The review also identified innovative ways of detecting the disease on farms including aerial surveillance and accurate soil and water testing.
“Although these methods are still in the research and development phase, they are definitely methods we could incorporate in the future, and we will keep the industry updated on any developments,” Ms Evans said.
The review did not identify how the disease was introduced into Queensland prior to its first detection in the Tully Valley in 2015.
“The fact that after almost three years we still only have three confirmed infested properties in the same geographical location shows that our rapid response and partnership with industry is succeeding in containing any spread,” Ms Evans said.
“Decontamination at property entry and exits, not moving soil and plant material, and not sharing suckers and bits reduces the risk of spread and protects farms and the wider industry from the disease.
“Biosecurity Queensland is also urging growers to implement effective farm and shed zoning to minimise the risk of disease spread within and off the property.
“Farm zones will cut production downtime. A well-prepared property with established biosecurity measures will be trading again a lot quicker than a farm that has limited or no biosecurity measures in place if the disease is detected.”