2021: The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The initiative aims at raising awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption.

The UN has acknowledged the inextricable links that exist between agriculture and the entire food system, specifically noting the significant contribution of fruits and vegetables to food security, generation of income, and employment of smallholders and family farmers. Specific emphasis is placed on the empowerment of women through education, recognising their role in sustainable farming practices.

In that respect, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is meant to serve as a launchpad for the uptake of effective actions that will strengthen the role of smallholder and family farmers in sustainable farming and production. Such actions are expected to have a positive impact on reducing hunger and poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, improving livelihoods, and contributing to better natural resource management.

In New Zealand, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables was launched at Parliament on the 10th of March.

“Access to fresh fruit and vegetables is essential for healthy people.  What often gets forgotten is the vital role that the people who grow fruit and vegetables play in ensuring fresh fruit and vegetables are on the table,” said Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

“COVID has shown us that we cannot rely on imports and has highlighted how lucky we are in New Zealand that we can grow most of our own food.  We need to make sure that we protect this ability.

“If New Zealand is to meet its climate change and economic goals, growers and farmers need to be empowered to adapt and reduce emissions. Give our growers the tools, incentives and time, and we could lead the world in climate change adaption and global food production.  This will require significant research and development to find the tools and techniques needed to make a difference.”

The UN Objectives:

  • Raising awareness of and directing policy attention to the nutrition and health benefits of fruits and vegetable consumption.
  • Promoting diversified, balanced, and healthy diets and lifestyles through fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems.

Sharing best practice on:

  • Promotion of consumption and sustainable production of fruits and vegetables that contributes to sustainable food systems.
  • Improved sustainability of storage, transport, trade, processing, transformation, retail, waste reduction and recycling, as well as interactions among these processes.
  • Integration of smallholders including family farmers into local, regional and global production, value/supply chains for sustainable production and consumption of fruits and vegetables, recognizing the contributions of fruits and vegetables, including farmers’ varieties/landraces, to their food security, nutrition, livelihoods and incomes.
  • Strengthening the capacity of all countries, especially developing countries, to adopt innovative approaches and technology in combating loss and waste of fruits and vegetables.