By Paula Doran
The Australian Banana Industry Congress for 2017 has come and gone, and what an incredible three days of inspiration, information and industry updates.
The Sydney event was based at the Sheraton on the Park, and attracted 353 delegates who enjoyed a three-day program which saw sportsman and raconteur Peter FitzSimons open the batting, and led to left-of-centre presentations from the likes of futurist Rose Herceg, inspired reality checks by former bullrider and farmer Rob Cook, to the all-important international science research on TR4.
The program included practical information including the dominance of bananas in marketing, the need to think outside the square in terms of creating brand differentiation, and really taking care of your work-life-balance focusing on well-being, rather than just productivity.
Coinciding with the State of Origin game once again (as was the case in Melbourne 2015), Congress proved a great opportunity to get off-farm and enjoy social time; and while the Maroon’s win was undoubtedly a good start, the Banana Ball was certainly the highlight in terms of glamourous fun – boosted by comedian Anh Do.
ABGC Board member, and Congress organising committee Chair, Ben Franklin acknowledged the hard work undertaken behind the scenes which again created a successful event, noting the high level of speakers as a particular highlight. “We had great feedback on the calibre of speakers chosen for the Congress and the balance of topics based on our three themes of sustainability, resilience and innovation.
“Some of the growers and industry stakeholders I have spoken to since Congress were very complimentary on the way that the event ran and the way that the venue was able to meet one of our key requirements of having exhibition space and the plenary room in close proximity,” Mr Franklin said.
“Certainly the challenging market conditions for bananas for a prolonged time leading up to the event had an impact on numbers, but for those able to get there, it was well worth the trip,” he said.
“There is a really strong group of people behind the event, and the support we receive from the industry in terms of sponsorship and those who commit their time to coming and being a part of it, it’s really heartening to see.”