FAO-WHO Fruit and Vegetable for Health Initiative (PROFAV/PROFEL)
 
FAO and WHO are collaborating in a global initiative to improve people's health – and farmers' incomes – by boosting the production, supply and consumption of fruit and vegetables. 

Regular consumption of a variety of fruit and vegetables in the quantities recommended by FAO and the World Health Organisation, is essential for a well-balanced diet and for avoiding of non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular problems, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Overall, per capita consumption of vegetables and fruit falls far short of the daily recommended level of 400 grams. Intake is generally in the range of 20-50 % of the minimum recommended level, and this is largely attributed to unhealthy diets in developed countries, and to poverty and food insecurity in developing countries.

FAO and WHO are leading a campaign to reduce the risk of chronic diseases by ensuring adequate supply, availability and consumption of fruit and vegetables around the world. 

Past Work and Achievements

Following general studies, surveys, and preliminary activities, the need for establishing an Initiative for the promotion of vegetables and fruit was formally identified and agreed by FAO and WHO during the workshop held in Geneva in August 2003

FAO and WHO then officially launched the Global Fruit and Vegetables for Health Initiative (PROFAV/PROFEL) in Rio in November 2003, and subsequently elaborated a framework for action at the national and international level during the FAO - WHO joint workshop held in Kobe, Japan, in September 2004.  

Since 2004. the Initiative has been operationalized within the context of a multi-partner framework, and numerous other international and national organisations have joined FAO and WHO in furthering its goals. Regional workshops advocating the need for increased consumption of vegetables and fruit - within healthy eating habits and lifestyles – have been conducted to cover different geographical areas or countries with common language:

These meetings led to follow-up actions at national level for the implementation of PROFAV/PROFEL.  These included national workshops for advocacy and action planning that were conducted:

  • July 2006 in Mozambique;
  • January 2007 in Venezuela;
  • May 2007 in Argentina;
  • During 2008 - 2009 in Madagascar (national strategy elaborated);
  • September 2008 in Benin; and
  • September 2012 in Ghana.

A prevailing objective of all these events has been to boost collaborative efforts amongst policy makers and programme managers from the health, agriculture and education sectors for promoting fruit and vegetable production and consumption.

The Way Forward

PROFAV/PROFEL will require sustained efforts, advocacy and support to obtain the desired impact on consumers and their health in the long-term.

The following areas will be given particular attention:

  • Continued advocacy campaigns at global level for the promotion of fruit and vegetables for health and the adoption of healthy eating habits and lifestyles;
  • Supporting the development of specific country-based programmes and actions, in order to implement the FAO - WHO framework for promoting fruit and vegetables at national level;
  • Support for development of dedicated multidisciplinary platforms and roll-out of campaigns at national level for the promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption within the adoption of healthy diets and lifestyles;
  • Conducting institutional capacity building and training / information of small producers on GAP, processing and storage, and hygiene in handling vegetables and fruit, in order to obtain quality and safe products;
  • Mapping existing policies, and current programme and activities for the promotion of fruit and vegetables in each country;
  • Support for increasing the production of fruit and vegetables by smallholders, encouraging especially self-consumption;
  • Support for Urban and Peri-Urban Horticulture (UPH) for self-provisioning and livelihood opportunities, and its integration in urban planning; 
  • Development of a standard methodology at global level to conduct surveys at country level and supporting country assessments to establish baseline data and make a multidisciplinary diagnosis of:

a) the production and consumption of fruit and vegetables at household / local / national level;
b) the prevalence of non communicable diseases ; and
c) the interventions in progress to address constraints in these areas.

  • Documenting the production and the consumption of fruit and vegetables, and the dynamics of the produce market;
  • Strengthening joint work amongst nutrition - health, education and agriculture sectors for promoting the production and consumption of fruit and vegetables.

FACTS

  • Worldwide, insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables is estimated to cause around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, about 11% of ischaemic heart disease deaths and about 9% of stroke deaths.
  • Approximately 16.0 million (1.0%) disability adjusted life years (DALYs, a measure of the potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) and 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.