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Multi-stakeholder forum set up for bananas

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An important opening has been made in the search for the establishment of an ongoing mechanism to bring together the major stakeholders in the international banana industry, with a view to arriving at solutions to the long-standing problems facing the industry.{{more}}

The international export trade in particular has been plagued with these problems, and in the absence of any agreed mechanisms, countries have resorted to the Disputes Panel of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with disastrous consequences.

At a meeting of major stakeholders in the industry held in Amsterdam, October 9-10, 2008, it was agreed to proceed with the organization of a Multi-stakeholders Forum to bring together all the major players in the industry – procedures, exporters, retailers, trade unions and workers organizations, consumer, environmental, research, and development organizations, in a mechanism for permanent dialogue to arrive at concrete and practical solutions acceptable to all.

The meeting was facilitated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Among those in attendance were representatives of the largest US and Latin American exporters, Windwards Bananas (a subsidiary of WIBDECO), producer organizations from Africa, the Phillipines and the Caribbean (WINFA), the Latin American Banana Workers federation (COLSIBA), and the International Union of Food and Agricultural Workers (IUF). The European Banana Network (EUROBAN), which organized the meeting, the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) and the internationally-renowned banana research organisation, CIRAD, were also active participants.

The first meeting of the Forum has been tentatively scheduled for November 2009, and a Preparatory Committee, representative of the diverse interests in the industry, has been set up to oversee the preparations. Winfa’s Co-ordinator Renwick Rose will represent the region’s producers on this Committee.