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Ecuador to host major international banana conference

Ecuador to host major international banana conference

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Another major milestone in the history of the global banana industry will be attained next week when representatives from all the principal sub-sectors of the industry will gather in the big Ecuadorean port of Guayaquil{{more}} in the Second Conference of the World Banana Forum.

The Forum is a permanent body set up for dialogue on the major challenges facing the banana industry worldwide to provide an ongoing mechanism for resolution of conflicts and problems. Its main objective is to promote knowledge and the adoption of sustainable practices for global production and trade.

It is the end product of a lengthy process embarked upon initially by small farmers organisations in the industry, banana workers’ unions and European civil society organisations interested in the banana trade. The concerns of these groups was heightened following the massive disruptions in the trade in the mid-nineties brought about by the ‘Banana Wars.’ These caused great hardship for farmers, workers, and even some huge trading companies occasioned by the trade disputes in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) between the United States and some Latin American countries on one hand, and the European Union on the other. The producing countries in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries were the biggest losers.

Out of this recognition, the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA) joined forces with the Latin American Banana Workers federation (COLSIBA) and the European Banana Action Network (EUROBAN) to try and establish a global platform for dialogue involving all the principal stakeholders in the industry. Two major International Banana Conferences were the result, held in Brussels in 1998 and 2005, attracting a broad spectrum of industry personnel.

Out of these discussions there was agreement that a permanent Forum for on-going dialogue ought to be established. Thus was born the idea of the World Banana Forum and finally in 2009, the Forum was officially established at its first global Conference in Rome. It is truly a representative body of the global banana industry, bringing together representatives of banana farmers, workers in the industry, major companies involved in production and trade, big and small retailers, fairtrade, environmental, standard-setting and research organisations, international institutions and governments.

The Secretariat of the Forum is based at the offices of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Rome and it is governed by a Steering Committee on which WINFA, in the person of Renwick Rose, is represented.

The Second Conference of the Forum will be a two-day (February 28 to 29) affair covering a wide range of issues critical to the banana industry. It will be preceded by a meeting of women involved in the banana industry, to be attende by a leading female Fairtrade farmer from Dominica, Ms. Rosa. Technical Officer at the WINFA Secretariat, Karomo Browne, will attend the main Conference.

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