IITA, Kampala, Uganda- The best and the brightest minds in banana research and industry from all over Africa will converge in Kenya later this year to develop a 10-year strategic roadmap that would harmonize and guide efforts to promote the marketing and trade of the crop in the continent.
Organizers are pleased to announce that the earlier postponed Banana 2008 conference on “Banana and plantain in Africa: Harnessing international partnerships to increase research impact” will take place at the Leisure Lodge Resort in Mombasa, Kenya on 5-9 October 2008. This is the first-ever Pan-African banana conference that links research to markets within the African context. Interest in this event is massive; the conference will be opened by Anna Tibaijuka, Undersecretary-General of the United Nations and Director of UN-HABITAT, and Karl Falkenberg, Deputy Director General for Trade of the European Commission.
The event is organized and coordinated by IITA in cooperation with Bioversity International, FARA, KARI and ISHS, and supported by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda and Du Roi.
The conference will have three major themes: markets and trade, production, and innovation systems. The role of research and the importance of public-private sector partnerships will also be highlighted.
Results of the conference will lead to the development of a 10-year strategy document that will shape and change the way bananas are produced and marketed in Africa, linking state of the art research to new markets and stimulating trade. In the long-term, the impact will be to change commercial banana production from a donor aid-supported system to one which is sustained by an invigorated private sector that actively seeks technological interventions.
Bananas are among the most important food and staple crops in Africa, providing food security, nutrition and income for millions of smallholder farmers. Depending on the variety, they can be cooked, fried, brewed into alcohol or eaten fresh. However, local and regional banana production, often carried out in smallholder farms, are badly managed and inadequately marketed. But times are changing. Small-scale but lucrative enterprises are sprouting in many places in Africa, producing in vitro-propagated plantlets that can be rapidly disseminated in large quantities, leading to increased farm productivity and allowing farmers better access to markets.
Increasingly, bananas are being targeted for commercialization, not only within Africa, but also for lucrative and emerging markets such as the Middle East and Europe, where dessert bananas are hugely popular as fruits. Recently, large international banana producers have announced plans for long-term strategic investments in sub-Saharan Africa, shifting banana production for European markets from Latin America to Africa. The conference will capitalize on this wave of change to help improve the plight of resource-poor banana farmers in the region.
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Thomas Dubois
Chair of the Banana 2008 Organizing Committee
IITA – Uganda
Tel: +256 752787808
Jeffrey T. Oliver
Corporate Communications Consultant
IITA – Headquarters, Nigeria
Tel: +234 2 241 2626 (ext 2773)