The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. The decision highlights the importance of plant health to global food security, economic development, environmental and human health protection. Recognizing the impact that banana pests and diseases can have on the livelihoods of millions of people, the International Society for Horticultural Science and ProMusa are joining forces with the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences in organizing the XII International Symposium on Banana, on the theme of Healthy banana production systems for better livelihoods.  The symposium will be held in Kunming, China, 19-24 October 2020.

The destruction that Fusarium wilt caused in the early banana export trades is a prime example of the profound influence a plant disease can have on people’s livelihoods. Where economies were based largely on export bananas, Fusarium wilt caused major production losses, financial hardship, unemployment, displacement, and social and political unrest. The emergence of the Tropical Race 4 strain, which attacks the Cavendish cultivars grown by the export industry and smallholder farmers alike, as well as many of the rich diversity of cultivars grown by smallholder farmers, poses a serious threat to a multibillion-dollar industry and the food stability of millions of poor farmers. The crop also suffers from a number of other major diseases, such as Xanthomonas wilt, bunchy top disease and various leaf spot diseases, and pests, such as weevils and nematodes.

The symposium will provide a platform for scientists and other stakeholders to exchange their latest research results and insights on important topics, such as the prevention and management of new disease outbreaks, the use of the crop’s diversity and latest advances in breeding to deploy resistant cultivars in the fight against diseases, the integration of different management approaches at field and landscape level, the impact of various constraints and management responses in banana production on people’s livelihoods, and the exploration of novel post-harvest and marketing strategies.

The symposium will consist of:

        A two-day scientific conference, with keynote presentations and a selection of oral and poster presentations

        A half-day hands-on biosecurity training/workshop on the prevention and management of new disease outbreaks, with a special focus on Fusarium wilt TR4

        A half-day speed-dating event to connect young scientists with experienced scientists 

        A three-day field trip to visit the YAAS and its partners research facilities