15 June 2021, Dushanbe – Healthy fruits and vegetables were at the center of a food festival, organized jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) in partnership with the local authorities of Vakhsh District today.

Dedicated to the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, the event, held at secondary school # 15 in Vakhsh District, was attended by representatives from local authorities of Vakhsh District, Un Resident Coordinator and international and media agencies.

During the day, children and grown-ups learned about the nutritional and health benefits of a diversified, balanced, and healthy diet and lifestyle based on the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and about ways to reduce fruits and vegetables losses and wastes.

“This is a unique opportunity to consider again our food systems with a possibility of change and achieving a healthier, more resilient and sustainable world where everyone can access and afford the diverse nutrition they need. We have to explore new favourable opportunities to improve infrastructure, farming practices thereby supporting small-scale farmers through innovations and technology and to reduce food loss and waste,” emphasizes Oleg Guchgeldiyev, FAO Representative in Tajikistan.

“Fruits and vegetables benefit children in many ways, including improved nutrition, decreased obesity risk and better school performance. Through our interventions, including the School Feeding Programme, WFP widely promotes healthy and nutritious diets for children. Healthy diets are dependent on functional and equitable food systems, and achieving food security and access to quality nutrition is possible by engaging all stakeholders – the government, private sector, civil society and development partners,” says Mariko Kawabata, Deputy Country Director/ Representative, a.i.

“We are very glad that together with our partners we were able to arrange a real holiday for the children, where they not only had a lot of fun, but also learned a lot about the principles of healthy diets. The healthy lifestyle should be formed from early childhood and become so ordinary for every child as brushing teeth in the morning and washing hands before eating. And we really hope that such holidays will eventually become part of the National School Feeding Programme and will be held throughout the country,” emphasized President of the SIFI, Vladimir Chernigov.

Participants of the food festival enjoyed exhibitions, cooking demonstrations, and theatrical performances, while schoolchildren could participate in painting contest and win small gifts.

2021 was declared by the UN General Assembly the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to raise awareness of and share good practices on the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption.

Similar events promoting the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will continue to take place in Tajikistan to promote also healthy diet particularly among children and the general population.