By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

Here at Growcom we celebrate horticulture and seek to promote its value to the economy and society every single day.

So before the year gets too far ahead, we need to give 2021 a plug as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

Announced late last year by the United Nations (UN), putting a sharper focus on horticulture is intended to improve healthy and sustainable food production through innovation and technology, and to reduce food loss and waste.

It was not lost on the UN the particular importance of fruits and vegetables as we work our way through a global pandemic, particularly in poorer countries.

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN has said COVID-19 is placing new pressures on food supply chains, and is highlighting the importance of healthy diets, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, as essential for boosting immunity and warding off disease.

The FAO has said up to 50 per cent of fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries are lost in the supply chain between harvest and consumption.

Waste in fresh produce systems and supply chains is a still a problem from which Australia, even as a developed nation, is not immune.

This year presents an excellent opportunity to tackle waste, especially as we’re facing a significant shortfall in the labour available to pick and pack our crops.

It will become increasingly important that we make the most of what we are able to harvest.

Going forward with the support of Growcom, growers will keep on doing as they have now for a long time, and that’s taking up new practices and technologies to do more with less. As a result we’ll improve our food security, reduce impacts on the environment, lower our consumption of water and land resources, while still employing more people and making an even greater contribution to economic growth.