Thiruvananthapuram: Bringing together a large number of banana farmers, business men, academicians, machinery manufacturers, agro biotech companies and researchers from around the country, a National Banana Festival that would showcase the wide diversity of bananas in India and multifarious uses of this unique fruit and other plant parts will be organised from February 17 to 21, 2018 at Kalliyoor in Thiruvananthapuram.
Organised by Centre for Innovation in Science and Social action (CISSA) in partnership with Kalliyoor Grama Panchayat and a host of National and State organisations, such as the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) acknowledged by United Nations University; Mitraniketan Krishi Vigyan Kendra. ICAR-National Centre for Banana, Tiruchirapalli; UNESCO New Delhi, Central and State Government institutions involved in Banana Research and Promotion, as well as NGOs working in this sector. The Kalliyoor Grama Panchayat, which has been adopted by Suresh Gopi, MP, under the Prime Minister’s Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), has already made a name for its intensive farming of diversified varieties of banana.
The National Banana Festival 2018 will also look to illustrate how research can help in using banana diversity to increase options for both small-scale farmers and consumers.
According to Dr C S Ravindran, Secretary General, NBF 2018, “the focal theme of the National Banana Festival 2018 would be Conserving Diversity, Preserving Identity, and Promoting Value Addition. The five-day festival, being planned as an educational and enjoyable event, will include a National Seminar, Exhibition, Training Programmes, Farmers’ Meet and a host of other activities. Participants will be able to engage in the building of networking and productive collaborations, apart from updating themselves with the latest knowledge and trends in the banana sector”.
Dr C Suresh Kumar, General Secretary, CISSA, added that, “the festival will also play host to a Buyer-Seller Meet, Training Programmes, Documentary Shows, Photography Contest, Cultural Programmes, and various competitions. Banana is the one of the oldest fruits known to mankind and is one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world. Availability, affordability, a varietal range, taste, nutritive and medicinal value make it the favourite fruit among all classes of people. India stands first in banana production in the world”.
The festival is planned in such a way that it will benefit producers, consumers, retailers, traders, government organisations, NGOs, research institutions, and all who have an interest in the banana sector, he said.
India ranks first in global banana production with 18% of global production and accounts for 36.6% of the total fruit production in the country. Banana and plantain are widely grown in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Bihar, eastern U.P., West Bengal and North Eastern states. The banana industry provides employment for thousands of people.
It is also a fact that only 1% of the banana produced in the country is exported. Organic banana, it has been revealed, is an emerging sector in the global trade. Bananas contribute to the food security, nutritional security and economic security of the rural India. The fruit, which is mostly used raw, has enormous potential in value addition and that remains largely unexplored. Further, banana fibre is one of the strongest natural fibre and ideal for fabric manufacturing. The fruit and other bio-waste like peel, stalk and inflorescence can be converted to food and non-food value added products. Lakhs of farmers are involved in the cultivation, and post-harvest loss is to the tune of 25 – 40% in banana sector. These aspects would be part of the discussions that would be part of the festival.
The main objectives of the National Banana festival is to Create awareness on the local biodiversity conservation; Promote entrepreneurship for doubling farmers income; Create awareness on the nutritional and health benefits of bananas; Promote utilization of under-utilized parts of banana -peels, leaves, pseudostem, stalk and inflorescence for food and non-food products; Augment the supply chain and value addition linkages; and Promote organic farming, precision farming, efficient input management and per drop more crop.
A National Seminar that will be part of the festival would host paper presentations from experts from across the country. Further, there will also be special pavilions on Banana diversity of Kerala; Banana fibre, and the like. A Food Court that will celebrate Banana Cuisine; and also Student pavilions will be part of the five day festival. A Farmers Meet to be organised at the venue will provide a platform for farmers to interact with researchers and stake holders, for identifying gaps and fostering networks. Eminent scientists and experts from reputed organisations and master farmers will be participating as resource persons to share their experiences. More details of the National Banana Festival 2018 are available here.