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Seminar explores pivotal role of fruit and vegetables in addressing poverty and malnutrition

Dr. Dyno Keatinge, Director General of the World Vegetable Centre (AVRDC), spoke at the second event in the new Agriculture and Health Research in Action Seminar Series organised by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research in Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and LIDC.
Keatinge claimed that it is possible to achieve the MDGs through fruits and vegetables, with a bit of political will. Fruits and vegetables are vital to human health: consuming less than 200 grams a day increases the risk of infant mortality, stunting, and malnutrition. Sufficient fruit and vegetable intake is also key for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester.
Indigenous fruits and vegetables provide most nutritional needs of the poor. However, access is not everything – adequate ways of preparing meals to maximise the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables is very important, and so is awareness. That is why AVRDC runs knowledge and behaviour change programmes (including information on growing vegetables and recipes), in addition to providing seeds and garden kits to local populations. People are encouraged to grow their own produce – a plot as small as 6 square metres can feed a family of four and provide most nutrients. In this way the Centre aims to address the barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption in developing countries: lack of awareness; prices and seasonality; freshness and contamination.
Benefits associated with the production and consumption of fruits and vegetables are numerous, including:
 
  • They are easy and inexpensive to grow.
  • They provide employment and livelihoods, especially to women.
  • They tackle malnutrition.
The Centre strongly believes that fruits and vegetables can contribute to eliminating malnutrition and diabetes.
The Agriculture and Health Research in Action Seminar Series aims to foster discussion around the links between agricultural production, food consumption, and the generation of health.
The next seminar in the series will take place on 20 July and will focus on disconnect between agriculture and health in India.
The Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) is a new initiative established under a five-year £3.5m grant from The Leverhulme Trust to build a new inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary platform for integrating research in agriculture and health, with a focus on international development goals. This Centre is enabling researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, School of Oriental and African Studies, School of Pharmacy, Royal Veterinary College and their partners, to work together to develop unifying research approaches and methodologies that integrate agricultural and health research. LCIRAH is hosted and supported by LIDC.
More about LCIRAH