It is indeed a pleasure and honour to organize this International Conference on Banana 2020 along with Bioversity International, Rome, and Indian Council of Agricultural research, New Delhi. I thank the Society for Promotion of Horticulture, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru, for hosting this event on behalf of ICAR-National Research Centre for Banana, Trichy. Banana is the fourth most important tradable commodity and a source of livelihood for millions of resource poor farmers in many tropical and subtropical countries. In this era of climate change and other environmental concerns, it is imperative to evolve sustainable strategies for banana production, postharvest processing and waste utilization.
We believe this mega event will be a complete package that will provide an opportunity for researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders to discuss the opportunities, challenges and threats faced by the banana industry and help in evolving mitigating strategies, identify research gaps, and provide solutions. It will pave the way for inter-institutional germplasm exchange and collaborative research programmes on banana improvement, production and protection. This conference will also provide a platform for students, aspiring scientists and entrepreneurs for exchange of knowledge, ideas and experiences and help to establish linkages and partnerships in research and business. On behalf of the organizing committee, I welcome banana researchers, students, entrepreneurs, farmers and other stakeholders to participate in this great event and make it a success.
Banana is considered as poor man's apple and it is available round the year unlike many other seasonal fruits. The plant is a source of food, beverages, sugars, medicines, flavorings, and non-edible products like silage, fragrance, rope, cordage, shelter, clothing, smoking material, and has numerous ceremonial and religious uses. Banana is a staple crop grown throughout the tropics and subtropics and contributes to 37% of the total fruit production in the world. It provides a source of food, nutrition and income for millions of rural and urban households. More than 400 million people rely on banana farming in Latin America, which accounts for 60% of global banana sales. Its year-round availability, affordability, varietal range, taste, nutritive and medicinal value makes it a favourite fruit among all classes of people. Hi-tech cultivation of the crop is an economically viable enterprise with increased productivity, improvement in produce quality and premium prices for the produce with booming prospects for international export. International banana trade is worth more than US$45 billion with a huge impact on the economy of many countries. Banana exports by different countries totalled US$11.8 billion with a volume of 18.1 million tonnes in 2016, which has gone up by an average of 30.9% over the past It five years. Banana consumption worldwide is forecasted to register a cumulative annual growth rate of 1.21% for the period of 2019–2024. The Asia-Pacific region leads the market with 61% share of global consumption. In India, banana as an enterprise generates around $7 billion / annum and provides livelihood to millions of farmers. India contributes to 27% of the global banana production with a total production of 29.3 million tons area of 8.03 lakh hectares. Banana alone contributes 2.8% to the Agricultural from an GDP of India. At present, India shares 0.3% of the total global export of banana worth Rs. 388 crores with an export volume of 1,11,000 metric tonnes.
However, over the years, many limiting factors like germplasm erosion, complex breeding, non-availability of quality planting material, abiotic factors such as temperature, soil salinity and drought, soil erosion, poor soil health, destruction of arable land due to urbanization, and low soil fertility resulting in high fertilizer use have plagued banana farmers. Global warming and climate change further aggravated this situation. Various pests and diseases particularly tropical race 4 of Fusarium wilt disease, pesticide deposition, etc. are hampering banana industry. Post-harvest handling is a systemic problem for banana farmers and more than 20% loss occurs due to poor handling and management. Besides, farmers face great losses due to seasonal glut, erratic price fluctuation, lack of knowledge and facilities on processing and marketing of banana, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to address these issues for achieving socially and environmentally sustainable banana production and improving the livelihoods of banana farmers. This Conference proposes to take stock of the current state of knowledge and future thrusts in the following thematic areas: