More than 600 delegates from 25 countries gathered in San José, Costa Rica to attend the V International Banana Congress, organised by national banana corporation Corbana, which kicked off on Tuesday.
During his opening address, Corbana’s general manager Jorge Sauma said the aim of the three-day event was to promote the exchange of information on all aspects of the banana industry – including production, marketing, transportation, logistics, research and development and innovation – in order to help increase its global competitiveness.
“We are here to promote open dialogue to help the industry deal with the challenges it is facing,” he told the assembled delegates.
Sauma welcomed the participation of representatives from banana producing regions such as India and Lebanon who were attending the conference for the first time.
Eduardo Gómez, Corbana's president, noted that as the theme of this year’s congress was ‘The challenges in the banana market’ and producers faced mounting cost pressures and higher incidences of diseases such as Black Sigatoka and Panama Disease resulting from climate change, international retailers should adopt a more balanced approach to banana sourcing instead of focusing simply on price.
“We hope that the supermarket representatives here today will be open to an exchange of ideas to allow each side to better understand the needs of the other,” he said.
Luis Liberman, vice president of Costa Rica, said the country’s banana industry set the standard for the rest of the world and that the ‘Banana from Costa Rica’ quality seal incorporates the highest social and environmental standards, as well as guaranteeing the quality of the fruit.
A key theme during the first day of the conference was the challenges of meeting the demands of a rising population while conserving natural resources. Delegates heard how with climate change affecting agricultural production all over the world, it was vital for the industry to adopt a collaborative approach and share information to find new ways to improve productivity for the benefit of all.