FAO welcomes the decision taken last December by the United Nations to create two new international days and an international year dedicated to issues directly related to food and agriculture.
The UN General Assembly adopted resolutions that designate the year 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, May 21 as International Tea Day and September 29 as International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, in response to the requests made by the FAO Conference.
“Without a healthy diet, we cannot wait to end malnutrition, and we will not eradicate hunger unless we reduce food losses. By highlighting the value of fruits and vegetables and the damage caused by the loss and waste of food, the United Nations has taken a decisive step towards promoting fairer, ecological and efficient food systems, ”said FAO Deputy Director General for Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. “Paying tribute to tea,” he added, “is a deserved tribute to the legions of small farmers who help produce what is the world’s favorite beverage, after water.”
Other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly focus on progress and challenges related to agriculture, food security and nutrition; the sustainable development of mountains; the role of agricultural technology; the importance of natural plant fibers for livelihoods and the environment, and the need to eradicate rural poverty.
Fruits and vegetables
Chile has been a great advocate of dedicating a year to the promotion of fruits and vegetables, which have notable nutritional qualities and also contribute to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that each adult consume at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day to prevent chronic NCDs, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as to counteract micronutrient deficiencies
The promotion of fresh products also fits adequately with the objective of strengthening the role of small farmers and family farmers, and boosts broader market options for millions of rural families. Mention should also be made of opportunities to promote gender equality, as women often play a leading role in households, both in the production and consumption of fruits and vegetables.
The proposal to make May 21 International Tea Day was led by the People’s Republic of China after the 23rd Session of the Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on tea, held in Hangzhou in May 2018.
Observance aims to recognize and promote the contribution of tea to human health, socialization, rural development and sustainable livelihoods. Tea is an important cash crop for millions of families in developing countries and, as a labor-intensive sector – including processing – the industry offers jobs in remote and economically disadvantaged areas.
The tea sector contributes to the Cardinal Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, significantly reducing poverty and eradicating hunger by creating jobs, generating income and improving the livelihoods of communities involved in activities of production.
Food loss and waste
Andorra and San Marino have played a fundamental role in the proposal of the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste (PDA). This day is an opportunity to focus attention on the need to reduce the PDA, and on the way in which this can contribute to sustainable development.
As discussed in depth in the FAO report The State of Food and Agriculture 2019, food loss and waste entail a large volume of emissions that exacerbate the problem of climate change, as well as a major impact on food safety. It is estimated that 14 percent of the world’s food is lost in the chain that goes from the point of collection to retail, a percentage that can even continue to increase later.