However, contrary to what one would expect, so-called "overweight" diseases (obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, etc) are no longer restricted to the North. They are also a problem for countries in the South, particularly in towns. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of diabetics in these countries is set to grow by 170% by 2025.
In Africa, the Maghreb, South Africa and even towns in less industrialized countries are all significantly affected. More abundant food supplies, less physical activity and the fact that being plump is still socially desirable are all conspiring to drive the rapid growth in these new forms of malnutrition, which need to be taken into account in agricultural and food policy. It was to this end that 76 experts from 16 African countries, and many representatives of international organizations, met recently at a workshop organized jointly by CIRAD, on the initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the WHO. The debate centred on promoting fruit and vegetables in the French-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean.
Purchasing power and quality: two obstacles to fruit and vegetable consumption
The fight against overweight diseases means encouraging consumption of these foods. While the WHO recommends a daily minimum intake of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per person, people in the Sahelian countries generally consume just a tenth of that figure. What are the obstacles to fruit and vegetable consumption in these countries? The first answer is purchasing power. For poor or low-income families, the priority is to provide every member of the family with sufficient calories to stave off hunger and remain active. Cereals, roots and tubers, and bananas are still the staples, and vegetables, with various other ingredients, serve mainly to make sauces. If money is tight towards the end of the month, people reduce the range or quality of the vegetables they eat. Cutting fruit and vegetable prices, particularly during the off-season, is thus a priority. There is plenty of room for manoeuvre: controlling the diseases that affect these often vulnerable plants so as to boost yields, playing on the complementarity of production basins so as to regulate the market, promoting certain traditional products that are popular but have been overlooked by research, and improving the logistics (transport, packing) of these highly perishable products for which losses are high. Product quality is another obstacle to consumption: even if their purchasing power is limited, African consumers are demanding when it comes to quality. They are wary of vegetables doused in fertilizers, which "result in watery vegetables", are afraid of excess pesticide levels, and are choosy about the texture and taste of the fruit and vegetables they eat. The issue is not only the quantities and prices, but also the quality of these products, and little is yet known about what determines this.
Education, health and horticulture have to work together
The range of different constraints means that it is important to link the various sectors of intervention. The health and horticulture sectors need to work together, along with those of transport, the environment and even education. Teaching children about the health benefits of fruit and vegetables is vital in some countries where calorie-rich industrial products are increasingly seducing new consumers. It is to this end that working groups were set up during the workshop, based on geographical zones with specific characteristics: the Sahelian countries, coastal West African countries, East Africa and the Indian Ocean. The political representatives of these countries, and also producers and funding agencies, were very active at the workshop. "We wanted these people to meet and talk to each other, so as to recognize the range of factors that determine fruit and vegetable consumption and the means of promoting these products", adds Jacky Ganry. To sustain this exchange of experiences, annual workshops are planned in each region, through innovation platforms where the various players will be able to meet and talk to each other.
The economic stakes concerning fruit and vegetables are double-sided: on the one hand, promoting them is part of a public health strategy aimed at fighting chronic diseases that are costly for patients, their families and the health service in their countries, and on the other, it generates income. Fruit and vegetables can be high added-value products: a hectare of fruit trees generates five times more income than a hectare of rice. This is a source of research projects for the various organizations involved, such as CIRAD, but also INRA and IRAD, supported by the CTA, the African Development Bank and the Globalhort initiative.
Helen Burford | alfa
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy