That’s a wrap!

A golden location to celebrate the nation’s favourite golden fruit 

After almost two years of planning, the Australian Banana Industry Congress was successfully held in May, marking three days of celebrations, knowledge-sharing, inspiration and more.

Tradeshow pic from above

By Sonia Campbell

It was tipped to be one of the best and Congress 2019 certainly delivered.

Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast proved to be an ideal location for the industry’s premier, biennial event.

More than 370 delegates – including 103 growers – converged on the five-star location enjoying a thought-provoking and insightful grower-focussed program. A program aimed at giving all those involved in the industry a chance to consider ways to farm better, inject business growth through change and innovation, deal with adversity including threats of disease, tap into emerging markets, and deliver the best possible product for consumers into the future.

Farm safety ambassador and football great Shane Webcke kicked off the two-day plenary proceedings and was followed by an impressive line up of presenters, including well-known demographer and social commentator Bernard Salt who had delegates captivated while presenting on future consumer demand trends expected over the next ten years.

Continuing to successfully market the nation’s favourite fruit also took centre stage, along with emerging export opportunities and challenges.

Australian and international experts offered insight into the future of R&D, with global trade trends, value-adding and embracing change offering additional retrospect and stimulus to the program.

Grower-focussed panels generated some of the most positive feedback from Congress, including the ‘Living and Farming with TR4’ panel (featuring Mark Smith from Darwin Fruit Farms and Gavin and Stephen MacKay from MacKays Farming) along with an ‘Innovation Panel’ made up of four growers trialling innovative practices and technologies on farm.

Antarctic adventurer, author and leadership expert Rachael Robertson brought the plenary program to a compelling and entertaining end, before delegates headed to the Banana Ball and Awards Ceremony, for a night of fine food, dancing and side-splitting entertainment by comedian Dave Hughes.

Congress Chair and ABGC director Paul Inderbitzin said the diverse and dynamic line-up of presenters at this year’s Congress was tailored specifically towards growers, with the aim of bringing innovation, opportunity and new and emerging ideas back home.

“This year’s program was aimed at giving growers the tools and motivation they need to take their banana businesses to the next level,” Mr Inderbitzin said.

“Whether it be the latest R&D, an insight into marketing techniques or overcoming challenges posed by disease – ultimately it’s all about delivering the best possible product into homes across the country.”

He acknowledged that the dedicated committee tasked with developing the comprehensive Congress Program were determined to listen to feedback from past Congresses and build a program that met expectations.

“It was clear from surveys conducted by ABGC that delegates wanted a program that was very grower-focussed and actually put banana growers themselves centre stage,” Mr Inderbitzin said.

“We set out to achieve this and we were very fortunate that so many growers were willing to take on the challenge of not only presenting at Congress, but were also willing and generous enough to impart valuable knowledge to industry at large.”

“We had a 20 per cent increase in the number of banana growers attending Congress this year – compared to 2015 – and there was certainly a real ‘buzz’ after this year’s event, and we hope this translates into even more growers attending Congress next time it rolls around.”

Congress 2019 would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of both the Congress Management Committee and Program Committee.

Congress Management Committee

Paul Inderbitzin (Congress Chair & ABGC director) Sonia Campbell (Congress Co-ordinator)

Ben Franklin (ABGC director) Jade Buchanan (ABGC director)

Leanne Erakovic Amy Spear MCI Australia

Congress Program Committee

Paul Inderbitzin (Congress Chair & ABGC director) Sonia Campbell (Congress Co-ordinator)

Ben Franklin (ABGC director) Jade Buchanan (ABGC director)

Leanne Erakovic Amy Spear Rosie Godwin

Matt Weinert Jenny Crema Elisa King

Matthew Abbott Shanara Veivers James Howe