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.