Fruit and Vegetables for Sustainable Healthy Diets


Poor diets are a primary cause of malnutrition and the leading cause of diseases worldwide. Improving diets, including increasing fruit and vegetable intake, could save one in five lives lost annually. Micronutrients and dietary fiber are essential for health; micronutrients obtained from fruit and vegetables have a lower environmental footprint than from other foods, making fruit and vegetables essential to healthy and sustainable diets. Globally, fruit and vegetable intake is far below recommended levels, however, the extent and nature of the problem is poorly understood due to insufficient dietary data, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Increasing fruit and vegetable intake will require starting with consumers, understanding dietary patterns, and addressing desirability, accessibility, affordability, and availability barriers through cost-effective solutions. Solutions must take a holistic end-to-end approach that starts from intake and works back through the food system to improve accessibility of fruits and vegetables and increase year-round supply of a diverse range of safe, affordable, nutrient-dense vegetables.


This initiative aims to use an end-to-end approach to increase fruit and vegetable intake, improve diet quality, nutrition and health while also improving livelihoods, empowering women and youth and mitigating negative environmental impacts.


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Understanding and influencing consumer behavior: co-designing and conducting research to understand the context-specific priority opportunities and constraints, and to design, test and scale appropriate interventions to shift dietary behaviors.
  • Exploring vegetable biodiversity, genetic innovation and seed systems, increasing farmers’ access to quality seed of improved, resilient and nutritious vegetable cultivars of a diverse range of species that align with the preferences of consumers, farmers and other value chain actors.
  • Working to expand safe and sustainable production, enhancing the availability of vegetables through sustainable diversification and intensification under conditions of climate change.
  • Supporting postharvest efforts and ensuring inclusive markets to reduce postharvest losses, improve food safety and empower women and youth in fruit and vegetable value chains in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Developing and influencing food environments, focusing on ways to develop or influence food environments to improve consumer access to and affordability of diverse and safe fruits and vegetables


This Initiative will work in the following countries: Benin, United Republic of Tanzania, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Rwanda, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. Key actors from government, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and academia in the four focus countries are actively engaged in designing and testing behavioral interventions targeted at women or youth to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
  2. 10,000 farmers (at least 5,000 of whom are women) adopt vegetable cultivars and/or safe and sustainable vegetable production practices across four focus countries.
  3. Private sector partners actively engaged in co-designing and piloting innovations are ready to scale at least four innovations to reduce post-harvest losses and/or improve food safety.
  4. Key actors from government, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and academia in three of the focus countries are actively engaged in designing and testing interventions to increase the accessibility and affordability of fruit and vegetables especially for poor and otherwise marginalized populations.
  5. Key actors and policy makers at national level (e.g. agriculture, finance or health ministers) prioritize fruit and vegetables and incorporate specific actions aimed at increasing intake, production, food safety and/or equity within the fruit and vegetable sector into national-level policies, laws or regulations.


Projected impacts and benefits include:


Cost-effective and scalable solutions enable 62.7 million people to meet their minimum micronutrient requirements, and reduce the number of people with noncommunicable diseases. End-to-end solutions address issues of desirability, accessibility, affordability, and availability constraints to fruit- and vegetable-rich diets.


Fruit and vegetables, as high-value crops, create income and jobs across the value chain, from smallholder farmers to market sellers and food vendors, benefiting 1.5 million poor households. Incentive mechanisms, and technical and institutional innovations, stimulate year-round production and trade in safe, diverse and high-quality fruits and vegetables with minimal losses.


Diets, nutrition and livelihoods benefit from the Initiative’s approach to socio-demographic inequities, including gender, age, and ethnicity. Through identifying and addressing impeding factors and introducing targeted food environment interventions, 12 million women as well as youth benefit from participation in fruit and vegetables value chains.


Protection of biodiversity and delivery of more climate-resilient vegetable cultivars and production packages, including through regenerative agricultural practices that reduce external input use and improve system performance, improve efficiency and reduce losses in fruit and vegetable value chains, benefiting 375,000 households.


Consumer demand is stimulated for a more biodiverse range of fruit and vegetables beyond the current narrow range of globally important species, including an additional 1,400 new accessions of traditional African vegetables being safely duplicated and made available. Good production practices are identified that enhance rather than deplete ecosystems, bringing 537,000 hectares of land under improved management.


Improving fruit and vegetable consumption will require a holistic approach

For more details, view the Initiative proposal


Header photo: Weekly market, Texcoco, Mexico. Photo by Ravi Gopal Singh/CIMMYT.