Second part of the CLOSING CEREMONY

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We promised you to be back with the second part of the Fruits & Vegetables closing ceremony.

A second half enriched by the testimonies of people who play a relevant role in enhancing the value chain of fruits and vegetables.

Anxious to discover the panelists’ testimonies? Here we go!

Ms Patricia Araia

Patricia Araia at the closing ceremony

The first panelist was the Chair of the IYFV Ms Patricia Araia, who shared some of the outcomes of the IYFV. She explained that despite the pandemic they received a huge number of reports. Most of them related to awareness activities at regional and local levels. The mentioned reports promote not only strategies for food and nutrition education, but also assessment of COVID impact on the value chain. Another great announcement was that these more than 80 reports will be saved in the FAO asset bank and made accessible for everyone.

Ms Dilara Koçak

She was succeeded by Ms Dilara Koçak, an activist and nutritionist from Turkey. Ms Koçak has reached 20 million social media users to spread the message of eating a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables. But how does she achieve it? Through different social platforms, she shares affordable recipes made of fruits and vegetables.

Ms Sylvia M. Kuria

Sylvia M Kuria closing ceremony

Then was the turn of the third panelist. A young farmer leader engaged in the organic movement, Ms Sylvia M. Kuria, who gets involved in the farming world inspired by her children. She wanted to grow her own food to know what her children eat. Then she realized that, in spite of the intense drought endured by Kenya, indigenous vegetables are able to grow well. Why? Because these plants evolved diverse drought-resistant traits which enable them to cope with the harsh environment. In fact, being autochthonous to their climate makes them resilient to climate change and diseases, thus very suitable for sustainable farming methods

However, very often the whole value chain is only focused on the level of production according to Ms Kuria. Very few actors are focused on supporting youth and women to move from production to retail. Therefore, “despite many of us being able to grow a lot of food, we are not able to get it to the market”. To tackle this, Ms Kuria created a small shop in Nairobi where they sell their organic food and facilitate market access.  Her message: “You need to think about the logistics, how food is going to reach the market. But we must also give inputs to the young people to grow organic food. Organic food should be affordable, and everybody should be able to access it”.

Ms Thamina Isayeva

Thamina Isayeva Closing ceremony

The next panelist was also a female entrepreneur, Ms Thamina Isayeva. She owns a small business in Azerbaijan that began as a hobby to preserve fruits by drying them. Ms Isayeva’s testimony dismantles the theory that cutting-edge technology is always the best solution.  We tend to believe that, to address the perishability of fruits and vegetables, we need innovation and technology. However, sometimes traditional methods can also solve it. That’s what her experience shows us. Tradition can also make a big contribution in terms of reducing food loss and waste. Nowadays her project is focused on creating local inclusive and efficient models of agriculture. An idea that is reducing rural women unemployment and upgrading their economic empowerment.

Mr Dr Benny M. Corcolon

Benny M Corolon Closing ceremony

The fifth panelist helped us to understand better the importance of adopting a more holistic food system’s approach. Mr Dr Benny M. Corcolon, Vice President, Research and Development at Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc., from the Philippines. He believes that “this is particularly important in the fruit and vegetable sector, because it can increase biodiversity, generate environmental sustainability, and improve the livelihood of farmers and employees operating along the whole value chain. Therefore, to promote a more sustainable production we must focus on environmental protection and social equality.  Meanwhile, the private sector must also invest in innovation to address better the climate change and COVID-19 impacts.

Mr Dr Ted M. DeJong

Mr Dr Ted M. DeJong closing ceremony

Finally, the last speaker for the session was Mr Dr Ted M. DeJong, Distinguished Professor & Pomologist Emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California-Davis, USA. Dr DeJong shed some light on how science, technology and research can be used to increase the efficiency and productivity of the fruits and vegetables value chain. In this mission the world of science has four issues to be tackled according to him:

  1. Climate change: “The first major challenge to address is climate change which is forcing growers to reevaluate what they grow, how, where… The keyword is change, which requires knowledge and that’s the business of science”.
  2. Availability and quality of water. As stated by Dr DeJong: “To use water efficiently requires technology.
  3. Labor: “Production of fruits and vegetables is very labor intensive. Technology and the era of information, computer technology, can help to reach efficiency in this field”.
  4. Energy: “Most major agricultural operations are dependent on fossil fuels. Sustainable energies need to be implemented”.

Dr DeJong emphasized that “Today we have an unprecedented opportunity in the production of fruits and vegetables: an increasing number of healthy conscious consumers. This is creating large opportunities and this demand for fruits and vegetables requires more science and technology. Moreover, if there is an increasing interest in consuming fruits and vegetables, this benefits almost everyone. Continuous research on the benefits of F&V, as well as in their preservation, is needed, as is to educate consumers, increase efficiency and reduce waste in the entire supply chain”.

There are still a lot of opportunities: post-harvest, handling, processing are still major issues, especially in the developing world. So, the International Society for Agricultural Science must invest resources to communicate and distribute the new information, new science, and new technology to people around the world. This provides the opportunity for scientists to communicate what they do and to learn from other people.”

And a most relevant consideration, the central importance of water and the effects of climate change on the farmers, already having an excessive impact.

So, as stated by the UN Director: “Let us leverage the momentum and the awareness generated by the IYFV to intensify the effort for a world where a healthy diet is available for everyone everywhere”.