Growcom concerned about future of Australian banana industry

Posted by James Ferre on 14th November 2008

Peak horticulture organisation Growcom remains alarmed that Biosecurity Australia has agreed to allow bananas to be imported from the Philippines due to their concern of a risk of diseases such as Moko, Black Sigatoka and Freckle to the Australian banana industry.

Chief Advocate Mark Panitz said that he was not confident that the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) could adequately protect the industry under the terms required by the Import Risk Aanalysis (IRA) due to the nature of these diseases and that organisation’s limited resources and manpower.

“The risks that black sigatoka and other major diseases present to our industry mean there is no margin for error where the Philippines’ compliance with the proposed risk management measures is concerned,” he suggested. “Detection of these diseases involves complex science. While the recommended quarantine measures under the IRA sound good on paper, I am not confident that AQIS has the resources to adequately protect the local industry.”

“And as we have seen in the recent equine influenza outbreak in Australia, and before that the citrus canker outbreak, the cost to local industry of a slipup is billions of dollars,” Mr Panitz added. “Biosecurity Australia’s decision could have devastating impacts if disease enters the country, not only on growers but on whole regional communities dependent on the banana industry.”

“Ultimately Australian consumers will be the ones to pay if the result is that they are no longer able to buy fresh bananas locally due to the collapse of the Australian industry.”