Our multidisciplinary research programme brings together bioscientists, modellers, economists, social scientists, NGOs, UK retailers and a global network of researchers, producers, purchasers and stakeholders, under the umbrella of UN FAO World Banana Forum (WBF).
WBF partners include major international fruit producers and traders, UK retailers, certification bodies, research organizations and numerous organizations representing the interests of producers and consumers. Our UK partner organization, Banana Link, a founding member of WBF, is working closely with UK retail sector to improve the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the banana trade. Our partner, 3Keel, works across the UK food chain on sustainability, particularly in relation to climate change.
Specific beneficiaries of our research programme will be:
1. Agricultural modellers: we are developing yield models, implementing the FAO GAEZ and Aquacrop models specifically for banana, and incorporating diverse datasets to improve existing models.
2. Food security and climate change researchers: Our projections of climate change impacts on banana production will widen the food security and climate change debate beyond the major grains. Our multidisciplinary programme will serve as an example for the analysis of other vulnerable fruit and vegetable crops, such as citrus.
3. Plant pathologists: Benefit from increased understanding of basic biology of Foc, mode of action of broad spectrum antifungal where resistance is unlikely to emerge.
4. Agricultural industry: Few new antifungals are in development and resistance is emerging to many extant chemistries, with withdrawal of many antifungals due to environmental concerns.
5. The global banana trade: International trade is at risk ultimately due to low diversity of the traded variety, climate extremes, and emerging diseases. We are developing new risk models that link production shocks to prices, enabling improved planning by international producers and buyers.
6. The UK retail sector: Our programme will identify regions of greatest risk, and provide economic analyses of production shock scenarios to allow planning for improved resilience of the sector.
7. Developing country producers: Producers will benefit from improved disease control through low cost, environmentally acceptable antifungals, and more long-term our analyses will result in greater efforts to secure supply and improve economic and environmental sustainability.
8. UK overseas development aid: many countries that export bananas to UK are significant recipients of official development assistance (ODA) from UK government. Improved agricultural security and larger trade receipts will reduce dependence on ODA.
9. UK public health: Bananas are an important component of the UK diet, with greater nutritional benefits than many alternative snack foods. By maintaining supply, we will reduce likelihood of a sudden shift to less healthy alternatives.
10. UK consumers: we aim to contribute to resilience and long term sustainability of UK’s favourite fruit by raising awareness of fair trade and real market value. This may lead to increased UK banana prices, in line with EU markets, but it may ensure that developing world producers can continue to meet UK demand.