AVRDC : Vegetable production, consumption vital for health and food security

Why vegetables must be on the plate for economic development, food security, and health

Doha, QATAR -- 10 June 2010 -- It may be a high ranking, but it is not a healthy one: Populations in six countries in the Middle East and North Africa are among the world’s top 10 for diabetes prevalence.

Dr. Dyno Keatinge, Director General of AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center, discussed the problem in a presentation on “Fighting the Battle Against Poverty and Malnutrition by Diversifying Cropping Systems with Fruit and Vegetables” today at the Qatar Green Foundation. “Over the last 40 years we’ve focused on overcoming hunger, but our success in increasing the production of staple crops has come at a great cost, both to agricultural diversity and community health,” said Keatinge. “You can’t live on bread alone and be healthy.”

AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Al Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complex (SAIC) on 9 June 2010 to promote vegetable research and development in the region.Increasingly, people in the developed and developing world alike have diets high in carbohydrates and fats. In many developing countries, more than 70% of diets now consist of just one staple. While staple crops such as rice or maize are important for food security, they don’t provide much protein, vitamins, or other vital micronutrients. The emphasis on starchy staples leads to higher rates of obesity—a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health problems that strain already-stretched health care systems.