The recent announcement of national freedom from banana freckle is a credit to all partners involved in eradicating the disease.
It is the considered, dedicated and long-term effort of Australia’s commercial banana growers, the Northern Territory public and government agencies, that resulted in this positive outcome.
Banana freckle was successfully eradicated through a multi-million-dollar program under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD).
This national agreement between industry and government triggers arrangements to deal with emergency plant pests immediately upon detection, boosting the chances of eradication.
The Deed covers the decision making around and funding of response, including the potential for owner reimbursement costs for growers. As the EPPRD custodian, Plant Health Australia (PHA) ensures that it is effectively administered and its integrity safeguarded.
The banana industry, through the Australian Banana Growers Council (AGBC), was one of the first cropping sectors in Australia to commit to this partnership approach to emergency responses, signing the EPPRD in 28 October 2004. There are now 47 industry and governments signatories, together with PHA.
The commercial banana industry was the principle funder of the banana freckle response, investing in half of the response costs, with the Australian government and state and territory governments and the nursery and garden industry also contributing financially and in-kind to the response.
The ABGC said this investment was needed to avert the impact of banana freckle spreading further afield, particularly to the major growing area in Far North Queensland.
The positive outcome of the eradication program is recognition of the value and benefit of the EPPRD in bringing industry and government together to decide on how responses are implemented and funded.
The sound approach taken by the Territory-based Banana Freckle Eradication Program was recognised with a National Biosecurity Award in 2016 in the Government Category for their significant contribution to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s biosecurity system.
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Featured Image: Maurice Thompson with sentinel banana plants in the Northern Territory prior to distribution during the banana freckle eradication program. Image courtesy of Bill Whitington.