Just out 21 July 2022
FAO and CIRAD join forces to promote sustainable production of fruit and vegetables
Vitamin, mineral and fibre-rich, fruit and vegetables are vital for nutritious diets, and the sector contributes to increasing biodiversity and improving livelihoods. But it faces numerous challenges in production, transport and trade that lead to high prices, making fruit and vegetables inaccessible to many, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Fruit and vegetables are highly perishable products, which can result in loss and waste, and given that many are consumed raw or uncooked, they may also pose a risk of foodborne illnesses. Furthermore, inappropriate pest and disease management of crops can lead to food safety and trade risks due to pesticide contamination or pest introduction.
The new publication, Fruit and Vegetables: opportunities and challenges for small-scale sustainable farming, offers guidance to small-scale farmers when starting up or expanding fruit and vegetable production.
Available in both print and online formats, in three langages (English, French, Spanish), the book illustrates practical options to ensure sustainable production, stable value chains and dynamic markets, and provides recommendations on how policymakers can create an enabling environment to support food system transformation for a thriving fruit and vegetable sector in their country or region.
The book is the result of a three-year effort coordinated by FAO and CIRAD with contributions from over more than 200 leading experts.
"Fruit and vegetables make an important contribution to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals", said FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol. "Knowledge products and strategic and transformative partnerships like the ones being presented today will put us on the right track us to achieve the SDGs, with a focus on better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better live, leaving no one behind", she added.
CIRAD Chief Executive Officer Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin stressed the merits of the partnership between FAO and CIRAD and called for more investment in horticulture, the "poor relation in terms of agricultural research [...] The horticultural sector will be vital in pushing ahead with an agroecological transition that combines the idea of "One Health" and territory-based approaches. We need to sustain and indeed increase investment in this field", she stated.
The vast diversity of fruit and vegetable crop species and their varieties offer numerous opportunities for small-scale farmers to produce nutritious and high-value crops in their rural, peri-urban, and urban environment, using relatively small areas of land.
Market liberalization and growth in international trade have created export opportunities for the horticultural sector in many countries. In parallel, rapid urbanization and income growth have led to increased consumption of horticultural produce, thereby expanding opportunities for small-scale producers and other stakeholders in horticultural food systems. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), empowering small-scale farmers in low-middle -income countries to increase their production of safe, nutritious fruit and vegetables in ways that protect the environment, generate income, and create social equity is a priority.
A comprehensive publication based on facts and supported by 14 case studies
The publication is based on proven, practical experiences and highlights 14 case studies from around the world. These include: the grafting technique applied to vegetables in Vietnam to prevent bacterial wilt and to tolerate flooding of tomatoes; successful agroforestry systems in Brazil's Amazon region; the use of biological techniques to control fruit flies on the island of Réunion; and the acquisition and management of big data to help small-scale mango farmers in Senegal.
Challenges posed by the perishability of fruit and vegetables are addressed by in the book with examples of appropriate technologies for the production and post-harvest management of high quality and safe fruit and vegetables. These in turn provide opportunities for new, off- farm businesses and decent work for advisory, technical, and marketing services and help reduce food losses.