See how the banana levy is being put to work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project below to go straight to its update:


Along with Hortlink, don’t forget that Hort Innovation’s banana grower page is an important source of industry info for levy payers. On it you’ll find:

  • Updates on the new Banana Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021. The SIP is being validated with industry during May and June, with the opportunity for feedback prior to the Australian Banana Industry Congress. When completed, the SIP will outline priorities for strategic investment in the industry, and will be used like a ‘roadmap’ by the banana Strategic Investment Advisory Panels (SIAPs) when providing advice to Hort Innovation on potential levy investments.
  • The latest meeting notes from the banana SIAPs, with the R&D SIAP most recently meeting on March 10 in South Johnstone and the marketing SIAP meeting on March 24 in Cairns. Both SIAPs are due to meet again in the coming months. The marketing SIAP will progress investment in marketing and next years’ investment, in alignment with the marketing plan. The R&D SIAP will meet once a gap analysis and outstanding project requests for proposal have been contracted. Investment in banana bunchy top virus will be a priority over the next few months.
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including the July 2016 to March 2017 financial operating statement, and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects.
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.

Any questions?

As well as the banana grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the banana program, on 0405 306 334 or at For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Manager Elisa King.



Improved plant protection for the banana industry (BA16001)

Status: New project

What’s it all about? Carrying on from the banana plant protection program described below, this project will continue to expand on plant protection for the banana industry. Its work will focus on access to banana varieties with improved pest and disease traits; access to clean planting material that has been pathogen tested; enhancing the diagnostic capacity for endemic and exotic threats; and improved pest and disease management.

It will work closely with new project Strengthening the banana industry diagnostic capacity (BA16005), which is focused on growing the industry’s ability to detect and identify emerging endemic and exotic plant pathogens. Along with diagnostic work, it will increase knowledge of the biology and spread of key diseases, and develop and test eradication strategies.

What’s the latest update? With the projects getting up and running, updates will be provided in Hortlink and in other industry communication channels as they become available. In the meantime, you can read Hort Innovation’s news article on both BA16001 and BA16005 here.

Banana plant protection program (BA10020)

Status: Completed program, with work in this space now continued by new project Improved plant protection for the banana industry (BA16001), described above

What was it all about? Running for five years, this program helped streamline plant protection research and activities for the industry – essentially developing the science and capacity needed to improve prevention, detection and responses to pests and diseases, now and into the future.

Its key activities involved:

  • Establishing a banana variety evaluation program for screening banana varieties for key pest and pathogen resistance, along with desirable consumer traits. As well as looking at current Australian varieties, the project developed an integrated system for importing and screening varieties from breeding programs across the world for Fusarium wilt resistance and agronomic performance in the Australian growing regions.
  • Safeguarding Australian production and markets, by establishing a post-entry quarantine facility for bananas and implementing more stringent post-entry testing procedures – allowing the safe importation of high-health material. State-of-the-art diagnostics were also developed to deal with diseases including Fusarium wilt, banana freckle, Sigatoka leaf diseases and more.
  • Developing improved management strategies for key pests and diseases, with just some outcomes including the introduction of improved bunchy top virus eradication techniques; introduction of new aggregate pheromone for weevil borers; and the review of industry chemical use, with a strategy to adopt new chemistries over time.
  • Building science and communication, which included presenting on pests, diseases and the project activities in general at industry conferences and other events, and involving university PhD, Masters and honours students in the program – growing the next-generation talent pool.

Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order at Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies.

Horticulture Nuffield scholarships (BA15004)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project provides funding to support Nuffield Scholars in the banana industry. Nuffield Scholarships are a chance for Australians in agriculture to grow their practical knowledge and a broad variety of skills, while heading overseas to study a topic related to their industry.

What’s the latest update? Applications for the 2018 Nuffield program are open until June 26, 2017, with the successful applicants to be announced in September. To learn more and to apply, visit the Nuffield Australia website.

To read more about what the Nuffield journey is like, read Hort Innovation’s profile on organic banana grower Matt Abbott here. Matt was the 2016 Nuffield Scholar supported by this project.

Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 – biosecurity and sustainable solutions (BA14013)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project has a focus on biosecurity strategies around Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a damaging disease of Cavendish bananas. It provides new science, information and practices to help growers avoid the fungus, contain its spread if it does occur, and manage an outbreak safely.

Its five broad aims are to:

  • Improve on-farm biosecurity practices to reduce movement of inoculum and to develop medium and long-term solutions for monitoring, identifying infection, interventions and further management
  • Improve access to new disease-resistant/tolerant cultivars
  • Develop resilient disease-management options to minimise plant stress
  • Update banana biosecurity protocols
  • Facilitate adoption of research findings.

What’s the latest update? On May 12, the project’s Banana best management practices on-farm biosecurity manual was launched at the Panama R&D Open Day – an interactive field day showcasing TR4 research, held at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ South Johnstone Research Station.

Download a PDF of the manual from Hort Innovation here. You can also request a free hard copy of the manual from Tegan Kukulies at QDAF (0459 846 053 or

The new publication is a valuable tool for tackling on-farm biosecurity risks. It includes a self-assessment checklist on biosecurity practices, a management plan template, and information to implement improved practices, including those related to zoning, general farm operations, crop production and fruit movement.

The researchers have also produced material on effective disinfectant products and their use, off the back of the project’s sanitiser trials. This information was published during the course of last year, but as a reminder is still available to access here.

An update on other project work was also prepared for the latest edition of Australian Bananas magazine (produced under project BA15005, described further down). Access the update here.

Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 research program (BA14014)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project seeks to provide medium- and long-term solutions for banana growers to allow continued profitable production, should Fusarium wilt become widespread in the North Queensland banana industry. Key goals of the project are to:

  • Improve cultivar resistance, by developing and identifying TR4-resistant varieties’
  • Build resilient banana production systems, by developing a better understanding of the TR4 pathogen and its interactions with plants and soils
  • Improve on-farm biosecurity practices.

What’s the latest update? The project is currently conducting a series of lab and field studies, and is also working on the Quality Banana Approved Nursery (QBAN) accreditation scheme, which is being transition from a state-government regulated program to one run by a partnership between the banana and nursery industries under this project. An update on this is provided on p8 of the current issue of the Australian Bananas magazine.

Banana industry minor use program (BA16003)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the banana industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The minor use program is also supported by the project Generation of residue data for pesticide minor use permit applications in horticulture crops 2015/16 – Eurofins (ST15027), which is responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST15027 uses grant funds from the Australian Government’s Agvet program, plus some levy contributions.

What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up for free here.

The Australian banana industry communications program (BA15005)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for keeping Australian banana growers and other industry stakeholders informed about key industry issues and the latest R&D in a timely way. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the uptake of new information, technologies and practices – in turn helping growers forge more productive, profitable and resilient businesses.

What’s the latest update? Delivered by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, the project continues to produce and maintain key communication channels, including but not limited to:

  • The quarterly Australian Bananas magazine, with digital issues accessible here
  • Industry e-bulletins, sent at least twice per month but delivered more frequently if needed. The e-bulletins continue to be available here
  • The Australian Banana Growers’ Council website,, which is updated regularly with content
  • The Australian Banana Growers’ Council Facebook page
  • SMS notifications and phone calls to growers, used for urgent industry updates
  • Video content to help convey information to growers, available through the Australian Banana Growers’ Council YouTube page.

The project is also responsible for media relations services, creating and distributing media releases and fielding media enquiries.

Cause and management of crown rot of banana (BA13011)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project aims to develop a greater understanding of the factors that contribute to crown end rot (CER), which has re-emerged as an important problem in the banana supply chain. The research seeks to improve pre- and post-harvest disease control and provide growers with information that will result reduced losses due to this disease.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, the project has previously identified two pathogens to be commonly associated with CER: Musicillium theobromae and Fusarium spp. (Fusarium equiseti-incarnatum complex). Both are widely distributed in North Queensland growing environments, and neither appear to be influenced by seasonal conditions. You’ll find the latest project update in the next edition of Hortlink, and can revisit what was happening at the time of last reporting here.

Integrated management of Yellow Sigatoka (BA15003)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Beginning in January 2016, this project supports the work of the Yellow Sigatoka liaison officer of the Australian Banana Growers’ Council. This officer’s Queensland-based role includes educating growers on Yellow Sigatoka (leaf spot) symptoms and integrated control, and assisting growers to keep levels of disease on their plantations below prescribed levels.

The officer undertakes leaf spot inspections and alerts Biosecurity Queensland when any other suspected banana diseases are found.

What’s the latest update? While no new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see last edition’s update here and will find the latest info in the next Hortlink.

Coordination of banana industry research and development (Panama TR4) (BA14012)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? The objective of this project is to coordinate the industry’s efforts, and build the knowledge and capacity, to manage and contain the Panama Tropical Race 4 (Panama TR4) fungal disease, first identified in Queensland in March 2015. The Australian Banana Growers’ Council’s Dr Rosie Godwin is employed under this project as the Banana Industry R&D Manager, to ensure R&D on Panama TR4 has tangible outcomes for banana growers that are adopted on-farm.

What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last Hortlink (2017, edition 1). Check out the previous project summary here, and look for a new update in future editions of Hortlink and in other industry channels.

NSW banana industry development officer (BA13025)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? This project supports the role of an industry development officer (IDO) for the New South Wales banana industry. The IDO’s goals are to develop greater cohesion in the industry, help build capacity, and to facilitate the development of skills and the uptake of new practices.

What’s the latest update? Matt Weinart is the IDO for the New South Wales banana industry, and can be reached at While no project milestone report was due since the last edition of Hortlink (2017, edition 1), you can see what Matt was up to at the time of last reporting here.

Banana strategic industry development (BA13023)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? With a focus on biosecurity and the environment, this project supports the role and activities of industry strategy manager (ISM) Michelle McKinlay within the Australian Banana Growers’ Council.

What’s the latest update? Continued activities of the ISM involve researching and preparing biosecurity and environmental strategies and policies to support the banana industry, including the recent Banana Industry Water Quality Strategy. The ISM also represents the banana industry in meetings and other stakeholder engagement mechanisms about issues relating to biosecurity and the environment, and is responsible for communicating developments in the biosecurity and environmental areas to growers through field days, workshops, grower meetings and articles in industry publications. Here, the goal is to increase exposure to and adoption of new ideas, and facilitate grower input into policy and strategy development.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Review of the national biosecurity plan for the banana industry (BA15001), a new project that began in March. It will update the industry’s biosecurity plan – a top-level document that identifies high-priority endemic and exotic pests and diseases, along with the risk mitigation activities required to reduce their biosecurity threat.
  • National banana bunchy top virus program – Phase 3 – QLD (BA15006) and National banana bunchy top virus program – Phase 3 – NSW (BA15007). With banana bunchy top virus the most serious viral disease of bananas, these projects represent the third phase in a 10-year-plan aimed at controlling and ultimately eradicating the disease from Australia. Project activities are designed to protect uninfested areas; remove infestation from farms and protect from reinfestation; and to reduce the disease range. The essential strategy is a risk-based surveillance and plant rogueing program, along with awareness activities. This is being enhanced with a cloud-based Geographic Information System (GIS) that will simplify mapping, planning, recording and reporting. These project activities and future bunchy top work will be workshopped with industry growers and stakeholders over the next three months, with new related projects expected to be established in the near future.
  • National banana development and extension project (BA13004), a project tasked with helping deliver the outcomes of levy-funded R&D back to the banana industry. Running since 2013, it is responsible for the national banana roadshow events; field walks; industry workshops; study tours; grower training activities; resources including fact sheets; and other direct engagement with growers and others in the banana supply chain. Details of events are published in industry channels and facilitated by project leader Tegan Kukulies ( The project is also running a range of grower-requested trials into innovative ways to deal with common problems and areas of in-field management, to be reported on in the next edition of Hortlink.
  • Banana industry congress 2017 (BA16700), which is responsible for the industry’s biennial Australian Banana Industry Congress, to be held in Sydney in June this year. The event is a chance for the latest banana R&D and marketing programs and results to be shared with industry. For further information, visit the congress website here.



Hort Innovation invests the banana marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and consumption. These include advertising, public relations (PR), events, social media and more. Here’s an update on some of the latest activity.

Australian Bananas advertising

With the latest round of advertising only recently wrapping up, it is expected results will be available to share in the next edition of Hortlink. Activity included:

  • Television advertising. The Australian Bananas TV campaign saw the bananas 15-second commercial run across a staggered four-week period during early April and late April/early May. Activity took place across all major capital cities and key major regional markets.
  • Out-of-home advertising. Running since February 19, the latest out-of-home approach complimented the television campaign, with a highly visible presence in high footfall retail and commuter environments. The retail activity, featuring digital poster panels, continued to the final week of the television campaign. Advertising also appeared on buses (in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) and on trains (in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) until mid-May, reaching the large portion of people travelling via public transport in metro centres.
  • Digital advertising. This activity ran until late May and was designed to:
    • Extend the visibility of the TV commercials to the core banana audience across highly visited online environments, to drive high-reaching awareness.
    • Deliver Australian Banana messaging through mobile-phone-based banner advertising in highly engaging rich media formats. Again, to ensure our brand stands out, providing a fun and engaging experience.

Advertising also took place at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, from April 6 to 19. For the first time in four years, the Sydney Royal Easter Show fell entirely in the school holidays. Australian Bananas had highly-visible advertisements across the event for its duration, in a number of formats including on the ‘Big Screen’ in the main event arena, and on banner boards and plasma screens across the show.

PR activity

As part of PR activity, dietitian and Australian Bananas ambassador Susie Burrell has continued posting regularly about bananas in her own digital channels, with her website having over 722,000 monthly visitors.


Australian Bananas has continued to sponsor events across the country, including the Gatorade Triathlon Series and Weetbix TRY-athlon, with Australian Bananas ambassador Billy Slater attending the Melbourne event, distributing medals at the finish line and then manning the ‘TRY Hero Signing Zone’.

Banana - Billy SlaterAustralian Bananas ambassador Billy Slater

Feast of the Senses and Guinness World Record

Innisfail was the venue for a Guinness World Record attempt for the Longest Banana Split on March 25, during the Feast of the Senses annual festival. Approximately 2800 participants wearing Australian Banana hats used nearly 43,000 bananas to create a banana split that was 8404 meters in length – beating the previous record of 7677 meters, held since 1988. The new record received plenty of media coverage, include a spot on 7 News and 7 News Cairns social media channels, as well as a spot on popular television show Queensland Weekender.

Bounty Bags

Bounty New Mother bags reach women with new babies. They’re distributed through hospitals nationally by midwives and Bounty representatives, reaching 76 per cent of new mothers around Australia.

As of February, Bounty Bags now include a banana case and fact sheet covering the benefits of bananas both as a snack for new mums, and as a first food for babies. Over 20,000 banana cases have been sent out to be distributed to new mums since February, with the bags handed out to nearly 235,000 new mums so far this year.

Banana - Bounty Bag inclusionThe banana case included in Bounty Bags for Australia’s new mothers

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