Big laughs, bright ideas as Banana Congress begins

Hundreds of people involved in ensuring Australians have access to their favourite yellow fruit have arrived in Cairns for the 2023 Australian Banana Industry Congress.

After the success of the 2021 Congress, the biennial event has returned to Australia’s banana heartland in Far North Queensland with a program set to tackle some big issues as industry faces its toughest time yet.

Growers from across the country are among the delegates, along with researchers, wholesalers, marketers, retailers and more.

Ahead of the plenary sessions kicking off tomorrow, a Scientific Symposium is being held today (May 17), showcasing the latest work from Australia’s world-renowned banana researchers.

The plenary program begins with a bang tomorrow (May 18), with much-loved comedian Jimeoin set to ensure delegates have the energy they need to take on some tough conversations over coming days.  

Congress Chair and Lakeland grower, Paul Inderbitzin, said the performer was the perfect way to help attendees get out of their normal business mindset and ready to embrace the thought-provoking two-day event.

“Things can be pretty bleak out there at the moment,” he said. “Like many farmers around the country we’re dealing with skyrocketing cost-of-production with long periods of low prices, as well as potentially devastating diseases and labour issues.”

“I think Jimeoin is a great way to kick things off, before we spend two days tackling some potentially challenging topics. We’ve got people from every link in our supply chain under one roof with one goal: ensuring a sustainable and profitable future for our industry.”

Mr Inderbitzin, who is also an Australian Banana Growers’ Council director, added that there would also be plenty of inspiration and practical information to take back to farms and businesses.

“We’re covering a huge amount in just two days, and I hope it’ll provide us all with some motivation to make change – in our businesses, on our properties and, importantly, when it comes to our mental health too.”

Speaker highlights include:

  • Professor Veena Sahajwalla, internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor revolutionising recycling science.
  • Emma Germano, Victorian Farmers Federation president and Managing Director of her family’s mixed farming operation I Love Farms.
  • Professor Salah Sukkarieh, professor of robotics and intelligence systems at the University of Sydney
  • John Harper, wheat/sheep farmer and mental health advocate

The program also features Q&A sessions with retail and marketing experts, a grower innovation panel and speed talks from scientists.

Mr Inderbitzin added that a range of social events would provide some much-needed time to catch up with other growers and industry representatives.

“This culminates in the Banana Ball and Awards of Honour on Friday night,” he said. “It’s a fantastic chance to celebrate some of our industry’s best and have a cracker night out to boot.”

Key points:

  • Banana Congress 2023 runs from May 17-19, with the plenary program taking place at Cairns Convention Centre
  • The Scientific Symposium begins today (May 17) at the Pullman Reef Casino
  • The full program and speaker information can be found at

Photographs can be supplied to media if required.