Banana freckle eradication

Eradication program information

The nationally accepted campaign to eradicate banana freckle in the Northern Territory (NT) has four phases.

Phase one: October 2014 to April 2015

In this phase, all banana plants were destroyed in the areas where banana freckle was found. This included all banana plants in backyards as well as commercial crops.

Movement of banana plants was restricted to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

The six areas where the fungus was found are called red zones.

Phase two: May 2015 to April 2016

This was a host-free period during which no planting of bananas was allowed in red zones and any regrowth that was detected was destroyed.

This six-month fallow period, followed by a wet season, was designed to ensure the banana freckle fungus had no host plant material to survive on.

Phase three: May 2016 to April 2017 - sentinel planting

From 1 May 2016 sentinel (test) plants will be planted in the six red zones. 

If you are not part of the sentinel planting program but are in a red zones, you can buy disease-free tissue culture banana plants from authorised suppliers with a permit. 

All banana plants, either supplied by the sentinel program or purchased, will be regularly monitored for signs of banana freckle.

Read more about the sentinel planting program.

Phase four:  May 2017 onwards

The results from the sentinel planting and other monitoring in the red zone will show if banana freckle has been successfully eradicated.

If there have been no further detection of the fungus, the Territory will then apply to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for a declaration the NT has area freedom from banana freckle.

History of the eradication program

A strain of banana freckle fungus, Phyllostica cavendishii, capable of infecting Cavendish bananas was detected in the NT in July 2013. This strain has not been found elsewhere in Australia as confirmed by ongoing surveillance.

The National Banana Freckle Eradication Program was nationally approved and launched in October 2014. The Program is being carried out in four phases over at least three years.

At completion, the Northern Territory will then apply to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for a declaration that the NT has area freedom from banana freckle.

Endorsement and funding for the program

The National Banana Freckle Eradication Program has been endorsed by all state governments, the Federal government, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, the Nursery & Garden Industry Australia, and Plant Health Australia. All bodies unanimously endorsed the National Banana Freckle Eradication Program.

The National Banana Freckle Eradication Program is Australia’s largest cost-sharing emergency plant pest response under the National Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed.

Funding is provided by federal and state governments. Significant funding is being provided by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council. The NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries has also given financial and in-kind support.

By eradicating banana freckle we are ensuring people in the NT can grow healthy bananas in the future. By eradicating banana freckle the NT is making an important contribution to Australian biosecurity.

More information

Go to the following websites for more information about biosecurity and banana freckle response:

Australian Banana Growers’ Council banana freckle information link

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources: Communique - National Management Group endorses National Banana Freckle Response Plan.

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Last updated: 27 March 2018