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Ongoing project

Biosecurity and sustainability in the banana industry (BA19005)

Key research provider: ABGC

What’s it all about?

This investment follows the completed Banana strategic industry development manager (BA16008). Like its predecessor it supports the role and activities of Industry Strategic Manager (ISM) Michelle McKinlay within the Australian Banana Grower’s Council. The ISM works with growers to develop, implement and respond to industry-related strategies and policies, and provides support for the adoption of new practices to align with these strategies.

The project has a particular focus on biosecurity and the environment – two priority areas identified in the Banana Strategic Investment Plan. This dual focus responds to the banana industry’s need to both be prepared for exotic pest and disease incursions, and to adopt best management practices on-farm to improve the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef.

As a result of this project, banana growers will be informed and engaged in stakeholder discussions; be better prepared to deal with biosecurity threats; and maintain their ‘social license’ to farm in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The project communicates regularly with growers, including through levy-funded channels such as the Australian Bananas magazine.

Since the last update, progress continues including:

  • Increased leadership and support for transition of the Panama TR4 Program to industry leadership through the development of a grower-facing Discussion Paper and engagement plan, as well as participation in Transition to Industry Working Group meetings
  • Laying the groundwork for the North Queensland banana industry to work with Traditional Owners to potentially eradicate black sigatoka from the Torres Strait Islands
  • Collaboration with Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to design and implement a ground cover project to capture accurate data for water quality models
  • Ensuring growers are fully considered in the engagement strategy related to land management targets within Reef Report Cards and the Reef 205 Plan
  • Participation in forums designed to strengthen Industry Strategic Manager (ISM) networks and enhance the industry’s constructive reputation including a joint bid with CANEGROWERS to deliver nutrient management plans to Wet Tropics growers and the review of Land Management Targets as part of Reef 2050
  • Collaboration with the Queensland Government’s Paddock to Reef modelling team regarding model complexities and banana data assumptions.


Read several articles related to the project in Australian Bananas magazine, August 2021 edition.

  • Pest and disease prevention in the Torres Strait (p14)
  • Freshcare ticks Reef Reg boxes (p25)
  • Productivity vs Environment – is it one or the other? (p26)
  • Hayden’s soil to be secure (p27)
  • Getting it right from the start with GPS (p28).

Several areas of strategic importance were progressed including:

  • Implementation of environmental regulations, with discussions now focused on the Queensland Government’s proposed compliance regime
  • Understanding water quality results from several sub catchments in the Wet Tropics and how these may impact on and be communicated to banana growers
  • Strategy development to support the transition of the Panama TR4 Program to industry leadership.

Project activities also included:

  • Working with the Queensland Government to achieve amendments to the draft regulatory provisions, plus technical submission to OGBR about implementation complexities with the proposed environmental regulations, for new farms on land without a cropping history
  • Design of a ground cover project to help gather accurate data for use with water quality models (to be funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
  • Creating a Future Farming Award recognising outstanding land stewardship in the banana industry, for presentation at the Banana Congress 2021.


Read these articles about the project in the April 2021 edition of Australian Bananas magazine:

  • Reef news: Latest report card results shows progress towards targets, p38
  • New strategic project, p38
  • More growers doing their best, p39.

Related levy funds

This program is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Banana Fund