UN designates 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

UN designates 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

The United Nations has proclaimed 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV), creating a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of produce in various roles worldwide and also to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Next year aims to inform the population on how important fruit and vegetables are in nutrition, food security and human and planetary health. 

It also seeks to educate ways to reduce food loss and waste and promote sustainability and safety of the fruit and vegetable value chain.

“By declaring 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, we are taking a closer look at a critical sector and urging the adoption of a more holistic approach to production and consumption that benefits human as well as environmental health,” Secretary-General António Guterres said at the launch event.

Cultivating fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better quality of life for farmers and their communities by generating income, improving food security and nutrition, and enhancing resilience through sustainably managed local resources and increased agrobiodiversity.

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals and are important for a healthy diet as they help lower risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

“Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstones of a healthy and varied diet (...) yet, despite the tremendous benefits we do not consume enough of them,” Guterres said.

A background paper published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), provides an overview of the sector and a framework and starting point for discussion for the Year, highlighting key issues to be considered for action during the IYFV.

The IYFV 2021 is looking to plan and act within four main categories: advocacy and awareness-raising, knowledge creation and dissemination, policy-making as well as capacity development and education.

Freshfel Europe, the European Fresh Produce Association, is calling on its members to proactively engage in the IYFV 2021 to maximize the outreach of this year-long initiative.

“The 2021 IYFV is a milestone in global acknowledgment of the important role of the fruit and vegetable sector and the necessity to stimulate fresh produce consumption, which in the EU is currently below the WHO daily recommended of 400g per day,” Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard said.

“Freshfel Europe will be supporting FAO in celebrating the IYFV 2021 by launching a digital campaign in January targeted at EU decision-makers to better support the sector in EU policy-making,” he said.

Guterres said, “a key moment in the IYFV will be the Food Systems Summit, where we will call on all stakeholders to identify efforts to make food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable.”

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the health and livelihoods of people across the world, we must come together to ensure that nutritious food like fruits and vegetables reach the most vulnerable populations, leaving no one behind.”