Representatives from the banana research and industry from all over Africa had an excellent meeting in Kenya in October 2008. The ambition 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 has been kick-started with contributions of key players in the banana world and critical reviewers. The prospects look promising and further details will be released post-conference.
The conference on â€œBanana and plantain in Africa: Harnessing international partnerships to increase research impactâ€ took place at the Leisure Lodge Resort in Mombasa, Kenya on 5-9 October. This was the first Pan-African banana conference that links research to markets within the African context.
The event was organized and coordinated by IITA in cooperation with Bioversity International, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), and the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), and supported by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda, Du Roi, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The conference had three major themes: markets and trade, production, and innovation systems. The role of research and the importance of public-private sector partnerships were also highlighted.
The strategy document shapes and changes 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.