World Banana Forum kicks off in Italy with a focus on sustainability, equity

Fresh Fruit Portal

The United Nations’ World Banana Forum returns this week to Rome, headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The fourth edition of the event is expected to gather 400 banana industry stakeholders, representing growers, government agencies, importers and exporters, retailers, research institutions and trade unions.

“Bananas are the most exported fresh fruit in the world by volume and by economic value,” said Victor Prada, secretary general of the World Banana Forum Secretariat.

“That makes this value chain the most important in the world, I would say, in terms of fresh fruit. Additionally, this is an essential source of income for thousands of rural households in developing countries.”

In 2023, Prada said almost 20 million tonnes of bananas were exported worldwide at an estimated value of $10.3 billion.

Industry issues on the program

Among the event’s top agenda items are gender equity, living wages for workers and prevention of Fusarium TR4 or Panama Disease. Each of these topics will be discussed during the forum and during side events, beginning March 11. 

Sustainable Development Specialist Camila Reinhardt Hurtado said the issue of gender equity will kick off the week. 

“It’s a prominent issue facing the banana industry, and we consider it important to be able to dedicate sufficient time to discuss the various challenges faced by women in the banana industry,” Reinhardt Hurtado told

“Women in the industry face several issues, one of the main ones being access to employment opportunities in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry, especially in opportunities for more stable, higher paying jobs and also within leadership positions.”

She said women also face challenges related to their health and safety, like violence and harassment in the workplace.

“Stakeholder collaboration is essential to carry out both awareness-raising activities and also implement gender-sensitive and gender-responsive initiatives that can aim to break down the gender stereotypes and cultural norms that foster these diverse challenges in the sector,” she said.

Disease prevention

Soil-borne pathogen Fusarium TR4, a major concern for producers, will also receive extensive focus, said Environment and Sustainability Specialist Matheus Cardim F. Lima.

“We gather specialists from all around the world and representatives from national plant protection organizations to share the best practices being implemented on the ground, such as in prevention and technological breakthroughs, including genetic resistance to the disease and innovative management strategies,” he said. 

“The idea is also to engage producers, policymakers, traders, research institutes and retailers in a collective effort against the disease.”

The forum will focus on best practices for biosecurity, early detection and integrated management of the disease. The event will also promote the World Banana Forum’s Carbon and Water Footprint Tool, to enhance climate change mitigation monitoring and evaluation efforts.



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