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Largest plant pest eradication programs ever in Australia: Northern Territory banana freckle free

Staff Writer |
The Northern Territory in Australia has been declared banana freckle free.

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Department of Primary Industry and Resources Executive Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Sarah Corcoran praised the community and industry for this achievement earlier this month.

“Territorians should be proud of what we have accomplished,” Ms Corcoran said.

“This has been one of the largest plant pest eradication programs ever attempted and achieved in Australia.”

The road to recovery for bananas in the NT has been progressing well following the lifting of the internal movement regulations. This has allowed commercial growers to replant, nurseries to sell plants without a permit and has allowed Territorians to return to growing the popular fruit in their backyards.

This huge success has been achieved due to industry, government and the community working together, as well as other states and territories.

Australia’s banana industry is worth $600 million, and reaching this milestone is a great achievement.

Australian Banana Growers’ Council Chair, Stephen Lowe, extended his thanks to those who helped in the extensive eradication process.

“The Territory’s commercial growers and backyard banana lovers have no doubt felt the brunt of this effort,” he said. “We know it’s not easy to lose banana plants in any circumstance – be it natural disaster, disease or otherwise. We thank them for their part in ensuring our vibrant Australian industry is free from this potentially devastating disease.

“We also appreciate the dedication of the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources for running the eradication program and the countless hours put in by the various government and industry representatives who contributed.

“The Freckle Response has been the largest Emergency Plant Pest Response under the Plant Health Deed ever undertaken in Australia.

“Of course, commercial growers of all sizes across Australia have also contributed $12 million to this effort. The ABGC acknowledges that this is no small undertaking on their behalf and thanks them for their unwavering commitment to their industry.”

Banana freckle will remain a declared pest under NT plant health legislation so everyone will be required to take measures to report and reduce the risk of spreading the disease should it re-occur.

Territorians are urged to remain vigilant and continue to check their banana plants regularly for any signs of banana freckle or other pests or diseases, and to avoid moving or sharing plants.

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