Predicting the benefits of banana bunchy top virus exclusion from commercial plantations in Australia

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42391. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042391. Epub 2012 Aug 7.


Benefit cost analysis is a tried and tested analytical framework that can clearly communicate likely net changes in producer welfare from investment decisions to diverse stakeholder audiences. However, in a plant biosecurity context, it is often difficult to predict policy benefits over time due to complex biophysical interactions between invasive species, their hosts, and the environment. In this paper, we demonstrate how a break-even style benefit cost analysis remains highly relevant to biosecurity decision-makers using the example of banana bunchy top virus, a plant pathogen targeted for eradication from banana growing regions of Australia. We develop an analytical approach using a stratified diffusion spread model to simulate the likely benefits of exclusion of this virus from commercial banana plantations over time relative to a nil management scenario in which no surveillance or containment activities take place. Using Monte Carlo simulation to generate a range of possible future incursion scenarios, we predict the exclusion benefits of the disease will avoid Aus$15.9-27.0 million in annual losses for the banana industry. For these exclusion benefits to be reduced to zero would require a bunchy top re-establishment event in commercial banana plantations three years in every four. Sensitivity analysis indicates that exclusion benefits can be greatly enhanced through improvements in disease surveillance and incursion response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Babuvirus / isolation & purification*
  • Babuvirus / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Musa / virology*
  • Time Factors

Grant support

This research was supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (Project No. CRC10162), established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.