International Conference on Banana 2020 - "Innovations in Sustainable Production and Value Chain Management in Banana" jointly organized by the ICAR - National Research Centre for Banana, Tiruchirappalli; Society for Promotion of Horticulture, Bangalore; and Alliance Bioversity International - CIAT, was formally inaugurated on 22.2.20 at Kalaiarangam Auditorium, Trichy. Dr. S. Uma, Director, NRCB, welcomed the delegates to the conference organized commemorating the Silver jubilee celebrations of ICAR-NRCB. She also briefed on the conference dedicated to banana, a common man's fruit as banana farmers face many challenges that affect productivity.
A Banana Expo, showcasing the vast diversity of bananas in India, and other banana related enterprises was inaugurated for farmers and the public by Mr Sivarasu, Collector of Tiruchirappalli District. A special postage cover marking the Silver Jubilee year of establishment of ICAR- NRCB was released on the occasion by Ms. Sumathi Ramachandran, Post Master General, Trichy. Dr Alagusundaram, DDG (Agrl. Engineering) stressed the need of reducing the post harvest loss by adopting better harvesting, handling, transport, packaging and cold chain management and stressed on the value addition and use of IoT in the value chain of banana. Dr A. K. Singh, DDG (Hort. Sci.), graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. In his address, Dr A. K. Singh highlighted the significant contribution of horticulture sector in general and banana in particular to the national GDP. He said emerging problems like TR 4 have the potential to wreak havoc on Indian banana farmers and it needs to be addressed on priority. He stressed the need of introducing polyclonal cultivation rather growing only one banana variety which is highly susceptible to TR4 wilt disease.
Many dignitaries including Dr. N. Kumar, Vice Chancellor of TNAU, Coimbatore, Dr N. K. Krishnakumar, Regional Representative of Bioversity International for South and Central Asia; Dr W. S.Dhillon, ADG (Hort.) and Ms Sumathi Ramachandran, Post Master General, Trichy, participated in the inaugural function and addressed the gathering. Lifetime achievement awards were conferred on Dr. N. Kumar, Vice Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and Dr H. P. Singh, Former DDG (Hort.) and Founder-Director, NRC for Banana for their pioneering contributions to banana R&D. A lifetime achievement award was posthumously conferred on Late Mr Bhavarlal Jain, founder chairman of M/s Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. for his services to Indian agriculture. Progressive banana farmers and entrepreneurs in banana related enterprises were also honoured with awards.
Publications including a Souvenir on ICB 2020, a book on banana and plantains and mobile apps on banana information, banana cultivation, export and value addition, and pest and disease management were released on the occasion. An ELISA kit developed under ICAR CRP-Vaccine and diagnostic and a liquid formulation of banana sakthi (a micronutrients mix). Dr. B. Padmanaban, Principal Scientist, NRCB, proposed a vote of thanks. 11 Technical Sessions on identified theme areas and a Satellite Workshop on Tropical Race 4 of Fusarium wilt, a dreaded disease of banana in many countries including India, are being held as part of ICB 2020. Many international collaborators like IITA, Bioversity International, FAO, QUT participated. Over 500 delegates including banana researchers from Australia, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Turkey, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Philippines and Indonesia took part in ICB 2020. The national banana show with 180 banana varieties and 60 stalls related to banana industry were visited by more than 15000 farmers, students and the public. A training on Foc TR4 was conducted by ICAR-NRCB in collaboration with the Alliance Bioversity and was attended by 45 people including 20 plant quarantine officials, scientists and students, on the last day of conference.