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Potential new Panama disease risk to $570 million Australian bananas industry

Staff Writer |
A suspected third case of the devastating Panama disease has been detected in far North Queensland in the country’s largest banana growing region.

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Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed a sample taken from a Tully Valley farm, located near the previous two outbreaks, has returned a positive result to initial tests.

Panama disease can be easily spread, meaning any outbreak has the potential to wipe out the local industry, which accounts for 90 per cent of Australia’s banana production.

It can survive in the soil for decades without banana plants and is easily transported in contaminated soil, water and on tools, farming machinery and vehicles.

Initially detected in Queensland on Cavendish banana plants on a farm in the Tully Valley, on 3 March 2015, the disease was detected on a second property in the Tully Valley on 26 July 2017.

According to the Department, Panama disease tropical race 4 is not harmful to humans and does not affect the fruit. The fungus only affects the health of the plant and its ability to produce fruit.

More than 80% of Australia’s bananas are produced in the region.

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