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Deputy Director General of FAO will be present at SHAFFE’s very first “Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Trade Congress”

FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol will be present at SHAFFE’s very first "Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Trade Congress" © FAO


With the aim of bringing the fruit industries of the Southern and Northern Hemisphere closer together and to allow better planning for the coming year, SHAFFE will hold the first “Southern Hemisphere Fresh Fruit Trade Congress” on the 25th of March 2021, with the defining theme of “Keeping the world supplied” – a critical topic thrown into sharp focus in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program of the Congress is now available online. In light of the ongoing International Year of Fruit and Vegetables declared by the United Nations (UN),  SHAFFE  is honoured to announce, that Food And Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol will be opening the conference with a key note speech – on the importance of the Fruit industry to global agri-food systems.


3rd March 2021 – “We are more than honoured, to have secured such a high-level speaker for our conference, as this more than ever shows the importance of availability of fruit and vegetables as a key element to global nutrition and a healthy global society”, says SHAFFE president Mr. Charif Christian Carvajal M.  Next to FAO Deputy Director General Beth Bechdol, the program will include targeted market intelligence and discussion on trade flows and figures, crop trends and industry outlooks provided by experienced trade experts from all eight Southern Hemisphere countries – among them Mr. Nathan Hancock from Citrus Australia, Federico Baya from the Argentinian Blueberry Committee, Luiz Eduardo Raffaelli from Abrafrutas, Ignacio Caballero from the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), Alan Pollard from New Zealand Apple and Pears, Ricardo Polis from ProCitrus Peru, Prof. Ferdi Meyer from the Bureau of Food and Agricultural Policy in South Africa and Carlos Maria Fraschini from Upefruy, Uruguay.

The conference will be held online in two different time slots, with the aim of facilitating the participation of representatives from different parts of the world. The first version will be at 11.00 a.m. (Central European time) to target Asian and Oceanian trade participants, while the second version will be at 5:00 pm (Central European time), to allow for the participation of North American, European and Latin American partners. During this congress, fresh produce professionals will have the opportunity to gather information on crop trends, production prospects and trade flows for the coming year, through the contributions from all SHAFFE members and market intelligence on consumer trends by the leading global research agency, IPSOS.

The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) was founded in the early 1990s as an exchange network for major Southern Hemisphere temperate fresh fruit exporters and growers. In total, its member countries represent an export volume of 11 million tons of fresh fruits, with a market value of 14 billion dollars, and a 25% share of the global produce export market.

During its almost 30 years of existence, SHAFFE has led important initiatives, such as establishing the exchange of data on key crops among its members, as well as organizing global membership forums, developing joint research initiatives, analysing and monitoring changes in procedures and policies in global markets, as well as providing instances of exchange and learning among its members.

In the digital age, which has been accelerated given the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and an increasingly complex global business environment, the members of SHAFFE have taken on the task of strengthening cooperation, through a more innovative format and closer collaborations, in such a way as to connect the fresh fruit industry of the southern hemisphere through the exchange of knowledge, facilitate access to markets and promote world fruit trade.

With a renewed Secretariat under the coordination of Ms Nelli Hajdu and a new presidency team led by Charif Christian Carvajal, who is marketing director Europe / Asia of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) in the role of president and Marta Betancur, representative from UPEFRUY in the role of vice president, SHAFFE is focused on strengthening the availability of resources for the entity, creating a supportive environment for the training of professionals in the fruit trade, developing closer collaborations with other similar industry trade associations, modernizing the exchange of information and communicating the role and contribution of SHAFFE to the global trade of fresh produce.

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2021 declared International Year of Fruits and Vegetables

2021 declared International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
Photo: Pilar Santacoloma, Agri-food systems officer of FAO’s Food and Nutrition Division.

What is the future of the world’s food sector in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic? Pilar Santacoloma, agri-food systems officer of the FAO (the UN’s organisation for dealing with agricultural and food issues), outlines the body’s agricultural policies for crisis-hit areas.

What support is being given to small-scale farmers in emerging economies during the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure food security?

Small-scale farmers play an important role worldwide in the provision of major food groups for human consumption, including a diversity of fruits and vegetables, pulses, cereal, tubers and roots; yet they are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19. The closure of shops and restaurants has reduced demand for fresh produce, which has affected small-scale producers. At the same time, transport restrictions and labour shortages have also limited their productive capacities. Governments of emerging economies have put in place different policies and plans to provide support to small-scale farmers and ensure food security during the Covid-19 pandemic. Direct links have been established between producers and consumers in countries such as Costa Rica, Peru and Guyana to support small-scale farmers and enhance their incomes, while also improving consumers’ access to healthy diets and reducing food loss. Similarly, governments such as Bangladesh and Costa Rica have enhanced public procurement programmes involving purchasing fresh produce from small-scale farmers for distribution among vulnerable populations, thereby generating a food security win-win situation. Through these measures, governments are supporting local production by small-scale farmers and are providing a diverse range of healthy food for those most in need.

Are fruits and vegetables today considered a more strategic commodity for ensuring worldwide food security?

There are  several reasons why the fruit and vegetables sector is key for ensuring food security. Firstly, evidence has shown that fruits and vegetables are very important components of healthy diets. In fact, an adequate intake of fruits and vegetables contributes substantially to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and certain cancers due to the high content of micronutrients, antioxidants, phytochemical compounds and fibre. Several studies also suggest evidence of an association between fruits and vegetables and improved mental health and increased immunity. Secondly, fruits and vegetables can be produced by small-scale farmers in backyards or in association with other crops, contributing to improved self-consumption or income generation via sales of surpluses. Thirdly, the fruit and vegetables sector can generate employment, particularly for women, along the various stages of the value chain – namely, production, processing and retailing – laying basis for improved income and local development, and better nutrition. However, these benefits are not always recognised and it is necessary to put in place public education campaigns, but, more importantly, to stimulate evidence-based debate to enhance policy support for this sector.

How are the healthy attributes of F&V considered within the FAO’s priorities and action plans?

For the FAO, the healthy attributes of fruits and vegetables are of paramount priority at the highest management level. This is why, the FAO has promoted the declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables by the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The initiative is aimed at raising awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption. In this regard, the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is meant to initiate a pathway for effective actions that will strengthen the role of smallholder and family farmers in sustainable farming and production. Such actions are expected to have a positive impact in reducing hunger and poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, improving livelihoods, and contributing to better natural resource management. An action plan for the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is being agreed with other developmental organisations, such as the WHO. This plan is based on four pillars: advocacy and awareness raising, knowledge creation and dissemination, policy making, and capacity development and education. Activities are proposed under each of these pillars in order to advance and maximise the contribution of F&V to sustainable development, rural economic growth and livelihoods, food safety and the promotion of diversified, balanced and healthy diets.

As the working group on environmentally and socially responsible horticulture is no longer active, what plans does the FAO currently have for working towards a more responsible and sustainable F&V supply chain globally or regionally in Europe or Asia?

As I mentioned before, an action plan is being developed and agreed upon for the launching of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables. The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables is meant to be a platform to sensitise the public about the importance of the sector for health and nutritional food and is directly linked to the 2030 Agenda, and in particular to the Sustainable Development Goals SDG2 (ending hunger, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture), SDG3 (ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being), and SDG12 (ensuring sustainable consumption and production patters).

Regarding bananas and tropical fruits: with the slowdown of the banana and pineapple markets, in particular, what programmes or strategies does the FAO have for stimulating tropical fruit markets?

According to my colleague Pascal Liu from the Trade Division, the situation is not clear-cut and there are divergent trends across commodities. The limited available data for the first half of 2020 suggest that there is a clear slowdown in the pineapple market, but not really in the banana market. Based on these data, global imports of pineapples fell by some 10 per cent between January and June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. On the other hand, according to preliminary data, world imports of bananas increased by 1.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Avocado exports have also increased, while imports of papayas and mangoes seem to be declining. Only when we have more complete and reliable data for the whole year will we be able to draw definitive conclusions. An article on this topic will be published in this month’s issue of Food Outlook. So far, there is no specific programme for stimulating tropical fruit markets in particular.




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Struggle against the locust in Central Asia, successful initiatives

Struggle against the locust in Central Asia, successful initiatives

Agriculture is a significant part of the economics of Central Asia; unfortunately, the crop is often damaged under locust invasion. FAO and six partner countries (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) drafted a project designed to help the farmers to protect the crop. Japan international cooperation agency (JICA) is the financial partner of this $7.3 million project.

The project being successfully realized in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2015-2019, FAO and JICA determined to spread out the support. Now the project is directed to resolve regional and national setbacks through the introduction of efficient up-to-date strategies and methods of the struggle against the pests.


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Latin American banana exports worth $5.6 billion

Latin American banana exports worth $5.6 billion

Latin America and the Caribbean is the world’s largest banana-exporting region. Estimates point to a total combined export value of around US$11 billion for bananas and major tropical fruits from Latin America and the Caribbean, of which bananas accounted for about US$6 billion, according to data published by FAO. Between 2016 and 2018, the total production volume of bananas in the region was an estimated 30 million tons per year, while total exports reached an annual average of 13 million tons, representing 80% of world banana shipments, worth US$5.6 billion per year.

Source: FAO


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Why and how to try Cardoon

A close relative of artichoke, cardoon is the FAO's Traditional Crop of the Month

A close relative of artichoke, cardoon is the traditional crop of the month for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to FAO, cardoon is a crop of regional importance in Spain (where it is known as Cardo comestible), Italy and the south of France, where it is used in traditional dishes. The stalks can be eaten baked, boiled, fried or braised.

A perennial shrub that grows up to 2m in height, it is cultivated traditionally for its edible stalk. “It is adapted to dry Mediterranean conditions where most precipitation occurs during the winter season. While the artichoke is usually vegetatively propagated, cultivated cardoon is raised from seed and cropped as an annual plant; the older shrubs produce fibrous stalks which are not as palatable as the more succulent annual ones,” FAO said.

As the leaves and stalks are bitter, farmers often ‘blanch’ them for 3-4 weeks prior to harvesting. Plant breeding efforts are now resulting in more sought after varieties that are lighter coloured and less bitter, it said.

FAO also shared a recipe for making ‘Cardoon with Almond Sauce’ in which the cardoons are prepared by cutting off the rough ends and peeling away the tough fibres. They are then  cut into 2-inch pieces and boiled for 45 minutes, or until tender, in salted water with a little lemon juice. Later they are heated in the separately-made sauce.

Why to try cardoon: