We are now allowed to grow our own banana plants. The monitored ‘sentinel plants’ supposedly resilient to the economic pest ‘Phyllosticta Cavendishii’ have passed the government test and can be bought at nurseries along with heritage banana plants.
The picture above clearly shows the measures Department of Primary Industries (DPI) ‘inspectors’ took to invade properties to look for illegal banana plants and regrowth while the eradication program was on.
They scaled fences and broke locks on gates when landholders were not at home and, were legally protected from negligence, theft or property damage.
The Biosecurity Strategy asks for members of the NT community to take responsibility for biosecurity. It’s a bit like the Bushfires Act saying that fires on private properties are the owners’ responsibility but that, since everyone lights fires (as per the then Minister) everyone has to accept authorised intervention to ‘mitigate’ this.
The environment suffers when conservative governments rush to ‘develop the north’ while ignoring the underlying rumbles from environmental science and sustainable, commonsense practice.
The past highly suspect and negligent actions of DPI officials and Wee Willy (former DPI minister who lost his seat in the 2016 election but joined the new government’s taxpayer-funded trade mission overseas) have destroyed a long-term social and subsistence culture of growing and consuming local heritage bananas. While our banana plants may potentially host a pest that is easily managed by cutting off diseased leaves/fronds, there are several other tropical food plants that are partial to damaging plant pests.
The eradication of every heritage banana plant in the Top End Red Zones was – as Wee Willy Westra Van Holthe pointed out – ‘the first program (pogrom??) of its kind in Australia’.Let’s hope it’s the last!
Food Sovereignty in general
RRRG supports the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance .
The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance effectively campaigns on behalf of millions of Australians who want a fairer, more sustainable and more resilient food system.
The NT Labor government should stand up for local residents’ rights to grow heritage food plants for their family and community consumption. It should be our choice to keep healthy plants while guaranteeing that those with the potential to host a pest that may adversely affect monocultural large-scale commercial interests will be kept out of the market economy.