International Green Week

Vegetables got a share of the spotlight during International Green Week in Berlin.

WorldVeg Director General Marco Wopereis was among the 2,000 people representing politics, business, research and civil society who participated in International Green Week (Gruene Woche), 16-18 January 2020, hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Berlin.

Participants took part in 16 panel discussions on topics related to the theme “Food for everyone – diverse, safe and sustainable” and learned about new products, services and research through an Innovation Exchange and Science Slam.

In two interviews, Marco highlighted the importance of genebanks in addressing malnutrition and climate change, and emphasized the need to shift diets, cut waste and postharvest losses and increase production efficiency to feed and nourish a growing population in a sustainable manner. He thanked BMZ for providing vital financial support to the WorldVeg Genebank, one of the world’s primary sources of plant breeding material to develop vegetables with tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses, improved nutrition and taste, longer shelf life, and new growth habits for vertical farming.

Marco explained that while WorldVeg works closely with CGIAR institutions, the CGIAR focuses on cereals, roots and tubers—calories to feed the hungry.

WorldVeg, on the other hand, is the only international center concentrating on hidden hunger or malnutrition—the lack of essential micronutrients in the diet. It’s a problem affecting 2 billion people worldwide. Vegetables contain the crucial micronutrients essential for good health.

Vegetable consumption in northern Europe remains relatively low at about 150 grams per day, less than the World Health Organization’s recommended 200 grams daily.

“Two hundred grams—that’s about 12 cherry tomatoes, or 2 to 3 medium-sized tomatoes,” Marco said. “Or you can think of it like this: 200 grams equals one cup of leafy vegetables plus a half-cup of cooked vegetables plus a half-cup of non-leafy vegetables. A cup is equivalent in size to a baseball, a half-cup to a billiard ball. So you need one baseball and two billiard balls’ worth of vegetables each day!”

One thing is certain: no matter how they are measured, vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed for cognitive development in the early years of childhood, and for good health at all ages.