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2021: The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables
The United Nations 74th General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IFYV). Thus, the United Nations has four primary focus areas: Raising awareness of nutrition and health benefits, promoting balanced and healthy diets, reducing losses and waste and promoting consumption, sustainability, supply chains and capacity strengthening.

IFYV and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is in congruence with three SDGs. It works towards achieving zero hunger ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being and promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns. Consequently, the initiative helps raise awareness about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables and hastens the 2030 Agenda’s attainment.

Cross-cutting Issues to Address

  • Small-Scale Production: Over 50% of fruits and vegetables grow on less than 20 hectares of land worldwide. Consequently, developing countries produce a significantly low volume of fruits and vegetables. Farmers in developing nations primarily practice subsistence farming for consumption. Thus, farmers sell the remaining fruits and vegetables to markets.
  • Technology and Innovation: To ensure quality and quantity output, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hopes to improve its already-existing farming technologies in the fruit and vegetable sector. As a result, it targets high-yielding and disease-resistant cultivars, insect-breeding for pollination, pest control and conservation-agriculture techniques.
  • Gender and Youth: Although women play a significant role in the world’s fruit and vegetable sector, they still face disproportionate disadvantages such as lack of legal access to land, insufficient financing and low and unequal pay. Fostering innovations in this sector would open opportunities for women and the youth in this sector to gain economies of scale and improve its overall thriving.
  • Policy: In the past, fruits and vegetables have received less attention than staple crops in policy, research and funding. In 2021, however, thanks to FAO’s initiative, the Fruits and Vegetable sector potentially stand a chance of receiving financing both from governments and investors, which will, in turn, boost its productivity.
  • Losses: East and Southeast Asia and farms in sub-Saharan Africa lose about 50% of fruit and vegetables during storage. Technological advancements would help increase supply chains’ efficiency and reduce losses and waste.

Policies & Measures

The 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables policies’ aim to attain sustainability, boost productivity and ensure profitability in this sector. Thus, it strives to nurture a healthy food environment for consumers to consume fresh produce. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of including fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet.

Furthermore, these policies explore opportunities for tax incentives and deductions in business activities. Additionally, it seeks new sources of funding for infrastructure development in developing countries. This enables smooth and timely transportation of the harvest to redistribution facilities and markets.

Policies aim to reduce food waste in developing countries by modifying market standards for fresh produce and facilitating food banks’ access to fruits and vegetables in the field for easy redistribution.

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu launched the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. He remarked that promoting healthy diets is crucial for immune system strengthening. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this especially important. It is difficult to assess the project’s progress this early, but it has undoubtedly made progress.

– Divine Mbabazi
Photo: Flickr