The VIII International Banana Congress, which began this Wednesday in Miami, has set a prime objective for the banana producing sector: investing in innovation and not letting prices fall.
This important meeting, which covers issues such as transport, research, logistics, marketing, pests, innovation, the effect of climate change, sustainability and consumption trends for a fruit that is essential in the diet of 400 million people, takes place once a year and is attended by more than 700 representatives of the banana industry from 40 countries.
The Congress also focused on the fight against the Fusarium race 4 fungus, which is not yet present in America, and the scientific and technological advances made regarding this plague.
Bram Govaerts, the global director of Strategic Innovation of the International Center for Improvement of Maize and Wheat, based in Mexico, was in charge of the inaugural conference of the congress. Govaerts stressed that the answers to banana problems and crises were innovation and co-creation. That term refers to the interaction between the producer, consumer, scientist, and the decision maker.
According to Govaerts, the banana has a great advantage over wheat and corn because, since it is a final product that can be peeled and consumed, producers can establish a direct conversation with consumers, who currently want to have as much information as possible to decide what to eat.
This is a great opportunity for banana producers who must provide information, nutrition data, and the history of their crop with their product to add value to it in the supermarket or greengrocers, he added.
In his opinion, it is necessary to change the terms of the relationship between the sellers and buyers so that they are in a win-win scenario where nobody loses, and also establish alliances between producers to not give in to a unilateral price decrease.
The banana is the eighth most important food crop in the world and the fourth in the least developed countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
135 countries produce bananas, which are grown in tropical and subtropical territories. Currently, the international export trade of bananas amounts to more than 10 billion dollars, according to the FAO.