NMG Communiqué - Panama disease Tropical Race 4 not eradicable

20 April 2015

The National Management Group (NMG) for Panama disease Tropical Race 4 (Panama disease TR4) met on 16 April 2015 and agreed that it is not technically feasible to eradicate the fungal pathogen in Queensland.

In making its decision, the NMG took into account advice from the Consultative Committee for Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP) that it is not technically feasible to eradicate Panama disease TR4 in Queensland.

The CCEPP reached its decision based on information provided by the Queensland Government that the disease has been detected in two discrete banana growing areas that are 180 kilometres apart and that there are no proven control methods available to destroy the fungus. The fungus can survive in soil for up to 30 years and there are no diagnostic protocols for detecting the disease in soil and water. It can be spread through movement of infected planting and plant material, soil and water. The disease can be present for many years prior to banana plants showing symptoms.

Panama disease TR4 is a soil –borne fungal pathogen that kills banana plants. The disease affects a number of commercial banana varieties including Cavendish, ladyfinger, bluggoe, ducasse and plantain. The disease was first detected in Queensland on 4 March 2015, having previously been identified in the Northern Territory (NT) in 1997. The disease was found not to be eradicable in the NT and is now established. Panama disease TR4 is present throughout banana growing countries in Asia.

The Queensland Government advised the NMG that it has established a Taskforce (TF), including the Australian Government, Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), local governments and other organisations.

The NMG for Panama disease TR4 is comprised of the Chief Executive Officers, or their delegates, of national and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia, along with ABGC and Nursery Garden Industry Australia as the affected industry parties. Representatives of Plant Health Australia also attend NMG meetings as the custodian to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. The group is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

The CCEPP is comprised of senior delegates of national and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia, industry and representatives of Plant Health Australia in an observer capacity.

Further information on Panama disease TR4 is available on the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.​