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Happy International Year of Fruits and Vegetables Happy International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
by Rene Wadlow
2021-01-04 11:23:53
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The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to promote a more holistic approach to the production of fruits and vegetables. Food systems should be more inclusive and resilient. However, for a food system to be sustainable there needs to be peace and stability. People on the move do not plant vegetables.

Today, across the globe, from Myanmar to South Sudan, from Afghanistan to Venezuela, people are fleeing from violence, lack of opportunity and persistent poverty. The issue of migration has thrown traditional politics into disarray and has decreased agricultural production.

fruveg001_400There are more people on the move than at any time since the end of the fighting of the Second World War which had seen the movement of a large number of prisoners-of-war, displaced people, and people wanting to start life again in more peaceful countries. Now we have people who are refugees (that is, who have crossed a State frontier) and internally displaced persons due to armed conflict: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Myanmar (Burma), Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and parts of Nigeria, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The refugees from Mali are a reminder that in addition to armed conflicts there are "climate refugees". The whole of the Sahel from Mauritania to Ethiopia has a deadly combination of weak and unstable governments as well as a multiple-year drought, which may be an indication of permanent climate change.

People are fleeing war and armed conflicts as well as persistent poverty linked to high unemployment levels, sectarian religious tensions as well as a lack of opportunity for advancement. The motivation of each person on the move can be different at the individual level, but the overall pattern of armed conflict, ethnic tensions, and government failure to hold out hope for advancement create the basic framework.

Cooperation is needed among the U.N. family of agencies, national governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academic institutions. The world must pull together to ensure that emergency needs are met and longer-term measures are taken. The relevant political scale for dealing with and regulating migratory patterns has moved to a world level while implementation remains largely at the national and local levels.

The impact on agricultural food production of refugee flows and internally - displaced persons is negative. The U.N. World Food Programme can help meet immediate needs, but longer term increased food production requires the settlement of armed conflicts through negotiations in good faith. Such conflict resolution is a major aim of the Association of World Citizens.

Thus as we celebrate the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, we must not forget the socio-economic and political context in which they are grown.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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