WELCOME to the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has officially announced 2021 will be the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 (IYFV) with the idea to improve healthy and sustainable food production through innovation and technology, and to reduce food loss and waste.
FAO director-general, Qu Dongyu, launched the branding at the 74th session the UN General Assembly in December, with a goal of raising awareness about the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health.
FAO launched it with an international virtual event.
Mr Dongyu described the initiative as "a unique opportunity to raise global awareness".
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had challenged people to find new ways of fighting hunger and malnutrition and said IYFV would highlight the role of digital technologies in improving nutrition and market opportunities.
"In the current health crisis we are facing around the world, promoting healthy diets to strengthen our immune systems is especially appropriate," Mr Dongyu said.
While noting the challenges in improving production and agri-food chains, he encouraged countries to see the International Year as an opportunity to improve infrastructure, farming practices thereby supporting small scale farmers.
He said fruits and vegetables were a good way for farmers to create cash crops.
In his message UN Secretary-General, Antnio Guterres, called for a more "holistic approach" to nutrition and sustainability noting next year's Food Systems Summit would also be an opportunity to consider the fragility of food systems.
FAO and the World Health Organisation recommend each adult consumes at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis to prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as to counter micronutrient deficiencies.
The FAO Director-General said food loss and waste in the fruits and vegetables sector remains a problem with considerable consequences, and that "innovative technologies and approaches are of critical importance", as "they can help maintaining safety and quality, increasing the shelf life of fresh produce items and preserving their high nutritional value".
Up to 50 per cent of fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries are lost in the supply chain between harvest and consumption.
The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 falls within the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) and the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF 2019-2028).
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