ITALY – The United Nations’ World Banana Forum has convened in Rome at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization for its fourth edition starting today, March 11, 2024, with the participation of 400 stakeholders from various sectors of the banana industry.

Victor Prada, Secretary-General of the World Banana Forum Secretariat, emphasized the paramount importance of bananas as the most exported fresh fruit globally in terms of volume and economic value, serving as a crucial income source for rural households in developing countries.

In 2023, nearly 20 million tons of bananas were exported worldwide, reaching an estimated value of USD 10.3 billion.

One of the key issues on the agenda is gender equity, and Sustainable Development Specialist Camila Reinhardt Hurtado highlighted the significance of dedicating sufficient time to discuss the challenges faced by women in the banana industry.

She pointed out that women encounter hurdles in accessing employment opportunities, especially in stable, higher-paying jobs and leadership positions within the traditionally male-dominated industry.

Challenges related to health and safety, such as workplace violence and harassment, further underscore the need for collaborative efforts among stakeholders to implement gender-sensitive initiatives and break down stereotypes.

Gender equity discussions will kick off the week, setting the stage for important dialogues around the multifaceted challenges women face in the industry.

Reinhardt Hurtado stressed the importance of stakeholder collaboration to raise awareness and implement initiatives that address the diverse challenges within the sector.

Another significant topic on the agenda is the prevention of Fusarium TR4 or Panama Disease, a soil-borne pathogen posing a substantial threat to banana producers worldwide.

Environment and Sustainability Specialist Matheus Cardim F. Lima outlined the focus on gathering specialists and representatives from plant protection organizations to share best practices, prevention strategies, and technological breakthroughs.

The collaborative effort aims to engage various stakeholders, including producers, policymakers, traders, research institutes, and retailers, in the fight against the disease.

The World Banana Forum will emphasize best practices for biosecurity, early detection, and integrated management of Fusarium TR4.

Additionally, the event will promote the World Banana Forum’s Carbon and Water Footprint Tool, designed to enhance monitoring and evaluation efforts for climate change mitigation.

As the global banana industry faces challenges related to gender equity, disease prevention, and sustainability, the World Banana Forum serves as a crucial platform for fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, and implementing effective strategies for the benefit of all stakeholders in the value chain.

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