Panama Disease

The Robson family’s world changed on 9th March, 2015, when they took a call from Biosecurity Queensland.  Samples taken from yellowing banana plants on their farm had tested positive to Tropical Race 4 (TR4). This is a soil borne variant of the Fusarium fungus that affects Cavendish bananas. There is no known way to treat spores in the soil, which can remain viable and infect banana plants grown in that soil for up to 30 years.

TR4 effectively wiped out the banana industry in the Northern Territory in the late 1990’s. If the disease is not controlled and spreads, it will probably spell the end for an industry worth over $600 million per annum for North Queensland. That would not be the end of the economic impact for the North.  Freight costs for food transported to North Queensland would increase significantly without the “back freight” provided by the banana industry.

For those who are interested in how Panama disease has impacted the banana industry and the Robson family in particular, we have collected links to media releases issued by Biosecurity Queensland, Australian Banana Growers Council Inc (ABGC) and on behalf of the Robson family.

The Robson family remain the only banana growers with a confirmed case of Panama disease on their property.

4 March, 2015 – Biosecurity Queensland – Suspected Panama disease Tropical Race 4 near Tully

15 March, 2015 – Biosecurity Queensland – Testing results confirm Panama disease on banana farm near Tully

15 March, 2015 – ABGC – TR4 today confirmed on Tully farm

30 March, 2015 – ABGC destroys plants on TR4-affected blocks

9 April, 2016 – Biosecurity Queensland – Second Queensland case of Panama disease Tropical Race 4 detected

28 April, 2015 – Biosecurity Queensland – Millions invested in Panama response. Quarantined farms cleared to resume operations

19 May, 2015 – Biosecurity Queensland – Quarantine lifted on Mareeba property after Panama disease testing finalised

16 June, 2015 – Robsons – Panama Paradox (link not current)

26 June, 2015 – ABGC – TR4 talks continue on farm strategies, cost reimbursement

21 July, 2015 – Biosecurity Queenland – Panama disease payments to affected growers finalised

21 July, 2015 – Robsons – Panama disease growers still out of pocket (link not current)

21 August, 2015 – Robsons – Further Panama disease detection on the Robson banana farm in Tully (link not current)

6 January, 2015 – ABGC – ABGC Considers Industry Buy-Out of TR4-Infested Farm

7 January, 2015 – Robsons – Robson Family confirm willingness to sell

2 March, 2016 – Cairns Post story – Bevan Robson interview and further Panama Disease detection

1 July, 2016 – Cairns Post Story – Buyout deal reached on Panama disease-infested farm in Far North

1 July, 2016 – ABC Rural – Fate of farm infected with Panama tropical race four to be sealed by a ballot of banana growers

26 August, 2016 – Robsons – Pleased that banana banana growers ballet successful

29 August, 2016 – Cairns Post story – Panama disease affected family hopeful farm sale will settle soon