The next generation of North Queensland biosecurity champions are going bananas to protect local farms all thanks to a new children's book about Panama disease tropical race 4 (Panama TR4).
Commissioned by the Panama TR4 program, local author Matilda Bishop wrote 'Charlie Goes Bananas!', which recently launched with a live reading to students at the South Johnstone Centre for Wet Tropical Agriculture.
Ms Bishop said the book centres around biosecurity education.
"Charlie is a young boy who learns about Panama TR4 (a serious disease of bananas) when visiting his grandfather in Far North Queensland," she said.
"He's alarmed to see sick banana plants in the neighbouring farm, which have been infested with the disease, Panama TR4.
"Charlie discovers what the disease is and how he can help protect banana farms from its spread."
Panama TR4 program leader Rhiannon Evans said Panama TR4 could not be eradicated.
"Panama TR4 has devastated banana growing regions around the world, however the combined government, industry and grower response to control and contain the disease in Queensland has set a global benchmark," she said.
"We're encouraged by the hard work that everyone has done in Queensland to contain the disease to just five farms within the Tully Valley over the past seven years.
"It's important that everyone who lives in Far North Queensland knows what they can do to prevent it from spreading and we hope this book will keep that effort going into the future."
Tully-based banana grower and acting chair of the Australian Banana Growers' Council Leon Collins said children could play an important part in keeping the containment effort alive.
"With 95 per cent of Australia's bananas grown in Far North Queensland, our children's futures could be heavily impacted by Panama TR4 if it continues to spread," he said.
"We owe it to our farmers and the economic viability of our communities to be aware of what we can do to protect our farms."
Copies of 'Charlie Goes Bananas!' will be sent to primary schools throughout the Cassowary Coast and will be available for loan from Cassowary Coast libraries.
The Panama TR4 program is a joint initiative between the Queensland government and the Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC).
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