Banana and Plantain in Africa Conference

Published on 23rd September 2008

WHAT:   Banana and Plantain in Africa Conference  

WHEN:   October 5-9   2008

WHERE: Leisure Lodge Resort, Mombasa, Kenya  


For more information, please contact: 


Jeff Haskins at +254 (0) 729 871 422



Banana  and plantain growers, scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers from around  the world will gather on October 5-9 in Mombasa, Kenya for a conference  organized to launch an ambitious and unprecedented 10-year effort aimed at  transforming what is now largely a subsistence crop, into a major cash earner  for millions of Africa’s rural poor.   


The Banana and Plantain in Africa Conference represents a first comprehensive attempt to create stronger global and local market links in the region for a crop valued at US$1.7 billion in East Africa alone. It has been organized by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with Bioversity International, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).    


Researchers  will present results from a wide range of groundbreaking studies that point to  numerous opportunities in fields, labs and markets for substantially boosting  the production and earning power of a crop that currently feeds more than 100  million Africans but whose potential has yet to be tapped.    


The conference, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Belgium Directorate General for Development and Cooperation (DGDC) and other public and private organizations, will concentrate on banana markets and trade, production and technical innovation, with the goal of producing a tangible 10-year strategy to realize the potential of this crucial crop to alleviate poverty and generate wealth.


Conference speakers will offer, among other things:


-Concrete evidence that concerted efforts to improve market access for the small farmers who grow the bulk of Africa’s bananas and plantains could double or even triple their earnings.


-A blueprint for boosting incomes in marginal areas through improved banana processing. In Africa, diverse products are derived from the banana crop, including beer, wine, juice, sauce, mats, handbags, envelopes, postcards, flour, soap and breakfast cereals. Yet, as a result of low investment in processing and market development, most income from bananas still comes mainly from the sale of  perishable fruit for immediate consumption.


-New insights into the fight against numerous diseases and pests, enhancing nutritional quality and raising production through new banana hybrids and crop management techniques. This will include a discussion of the role of biotechnology in the overall push to improve banana production in Africa.


-Consideration of bananas as an effective hedge against food crises and price shocks in Africa.  A recent report from an African agriculture research consortium found that  Uganda’s reliance on homegrown bananas for food and income was a key reason why  during the recent global farm commodity crisis, the food price index rose only  10% in Uganda, compared to the global average of 56%.   


 Details: Conference overview, agenda and registration available online at:  


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