This year's Australian Banana Industry Congress is aiming to put the focus back on the growers, and celebrate their achievements in the industry.
FreshPlaza is attending the biennial event, which began on the Gold Coast today. Congress Chair and Australian Banana Growers’ Council Director, Paul Inderbitzin says the idea has been to get as many growers to the event as possible.
"It is a congress, not a conference, that means it is grower-central," he said. "The themes are based around three words: 'Adapt, Grow, Thrive'. These words are trying to create the picture of what we are trying to do in our day to day farming businesses. So, I am really excited about the program. We have got a lot of depth in the program, we've got a lot of diversity, and it does cater for all banana growers in Australia."
Photo: Congress Chair Paul Inderbitzin addressing the welcome function
Delegates have travelled from all over the country including the main production regions in North Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Western Australia for the congress. They will hear from a range of different speakers covering marketing, research and development, sustainable management - as well as hearing from other produce sectors, about challenges in their industries.
"Change is inevitable, but you would rather be in the driving seat to always adapt to the change," Mr Inderbitzin said. "So, it is all about risk mitigation in our business. So hopefully we learn a bit more about those things over the next two day."
Among an array of international delegates are a delegation from Ecuador, including the Ecuadorian Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Xavier Lazo, Dr. Patricio Almeida, Executive Director of Ecuadorian Agricultural Health Service and the Ecuadorian Ambassador to Australia, Mr Juan Salazar.
"It's great to see that we are attracting international interest," Mr Inderbitzin said. "We do have world leading scientists in this country and hopefully there is enough in the program in the next two days to really help them out on their thirst for information on the same challenges we are facing on things like TR4."
In 2017/18, 96 per cent of Australian households purchased bananas, buying an average of 875g per shopping trip. In that same period, fresh supply was valued at almost $600million. Mr Inderbitzin says the program is aimed at giving growers the tools and motivation they need to take their banana businesses to the next level.
"It starts with the grower, it starts with the produce, it starts with the product," he said. "But all the guys along the supply chain have got to do the stellar job that they do in presenting our beautiful produce to the consumer in the way it is firstly accepted, and then they keep going back to buy."