Tapping the economic and nutritional power of vegetables
Vegetables are increasingly recognized as essential for food and nutrition security. Vegetable production provides a promising economic opportunity for reducing rural poverty and unemployment in developing countries and is a key component of farm diversification strategies. Vegetables are mankind’s most affordable source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Today, neither the economic nor nutritional power of vegetables is sufficiently realized. To tap the economic power of vegetables, governments will need to increase their investment in farm productivity (including improved varieties, alternatives to chemical pesticides, and the use of protected cultivation), good postharvest management, food safety, and market access. To tap the nutritional power of vegetables, consumers need to know how vegetables contribute to health, and find them at affordable prices or be able to grow them themselves. Vegetable consumption must therefore be nurtured through a combination of supply-side interventions and behavioral change communication emphasizing the importance of eating vegetables for good nutrition and health. To fully tap the economic and nutritional power of vegetables, governments and donors will need to give vegetables much greater priority than they currently receive. Now is the time to prioritize investments in vegetables, providing increased economic opportunities for smallholder farmers and providing healthy diets for all.