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UN declares 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy and varied diet, says the United Nations as the world body declared 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

António Guterres
António Guterres. UN Secretary General

Secretary-General António Guterres, in his message on the launch of the International Year on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, said that fruits and vegetables provided the human body with an abundance of nutrients, strengthened immune systems and helped lower risks for a number of diseases.  

According to him, despite the tremendous benefits fruits and vegetables possess, we do not consume enough of them.

“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 and environmental health.

“A key moment in the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will be the Food Systems Summit where we will call on all stakeholders to intensify efforts to make food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable.  

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes the role our food systems play in fighting hunger, ending poverty and protecting our planet,” he said.

Guterrres, however, said that today, rising populations, increased urbanisation, the growing scarcity of natural resources, agricultural pollution and land use change, high levels of food loss and waste and the impacts of climate change were all highlighting the fragility of our food systems.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the health and livelihoods of people across the world.

“We must come together to ensure that nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, reaches the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind.

“Let us use this International Year to rethink our relationship with how we produce and consume food.  

“Let us re-examine our food systems and commit to a healthier, more resilient and sustainable world where everyone can access and afford the diverse nutrition they need,” Guterres said.

By Busayo Onijala

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