World Food Day 2023

Water action for food: jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa value chain development

16 octobre 2023, 11:54


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Water action for food: jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa value chain development

Every year, World Food Day is celebrated on the 16th October. It is an international day that was established by member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1979. World Food Day flagship events include the Global World Food Day Ceremony on the 16th October 2023 as well as the third edition of Junior World Food Day which will take place on the 19th October 2023.

This year’s World Food Day theme is “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind”. Our life and food depend on access to adequate and clean water. How we produce food and what we eat affect water quality and quantity. Thus, food security and water security are inextricably linked. Every human being, at all times, has the right to have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and quality food, as well as adequate, safe and acceptable water. According to “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023”, a flagship publication of the FAO, “it is estimated that between 690 and 783 million people in the world faced hunger in 2022”. Water access and quality is crucial for food security. However, water is a scarce, unevenly distributed, fragile and dwindling resource. The FAO reports that 2.5% of water on Earth is freshwater and 2.4 billion people live in countries that are stressed for water. Global warming and climate change will exacerbate the water challenges if we don’t take action.

In the context of World Food Day 2023, the FAO makes a global call for water action to ensure a water and food secure future for everyone and everywhere. 72% of global freshwater goes to agriculture and global water demand for agriculture is anticipated to increase 35% by 2050. There is an urgent need to produce more food with less water. The FAO calls for more responsibility and greater empathy in our choices and actions to protect water, food and life. Examples of actions that can be taken by individuals world-wide include: choose local and in-season fruits and vegetables which usually take less water to produce; add more water-friendly foods such as pulses, millets and nuts to promote dietary diversity; eat more fresh foods; reduce food waste; opt for ecolabel fish that has been caught or farmed sustainably, and purchase what you need; save and do not pollute water.

Underutilised crops (also referred to as under-researched, neglected, orphan, forgotten, lost or disadvantaged crops) can contribute to reduce dependence of the global food system on four mainstream crops, the “Big 4”, namely maize, wheat, soyabean and rice. Investment in underutilised food crops could be a homegrown solution to promote crop diversity. In Mauritius, underutilised crops such as jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa have potential to increase dietary diversity, food security and food system resilience to future shocks. Jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa trees are perennial plants which persist for several years. They are mainly grown in backyards and have cultural as well as nutritional significance. It is reported that these food trees require little water but more knowledge is needed on their water utilisation. Jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumstick pods are good sources of nutrients and antioxidants. However, jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks are susceptible to postharvest deterioration and losses. Peeling and cutting can be cumbersome, and fresh-cut green jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks are prone to enzymatic browning. These factors constitute limitations to their utilisation by consumers. Interestingly, fresh-cut green jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks can be precooked and frozen to preserve them for further processing or culinary applications. Thus, valueaddition to these crops is a proposed water action for food.

Household participation is the driving force in the establishment of backyard food crops supply and value chains. The following ideas are shared to stimulate conversations, research, policies and actions, engaging households, youth, women and consumers as well as other stakeholders in Mauritius:

  1. Develop a mobile application to identify, register and map households willing to supply backyard green jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks to processing units.

  2. Set up cooperatives and food enterprises engaging youth and women in local communities to collect, store and process backyard green jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks into pre-cooked frozen products for identified local target markets. These could be retail outlets, restaurants and hotels.

  3. Connect households with cooperatives and food enterprises through the mobile application.

  4. Establish procurement and distribution logistics for fresh and frozen backyard green jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa drumsticks.

  5. Implement backyard food tree planting campaigns to ensure sustainability of jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa value chains.

  6. Create commercial orchards to upscale and expand jackfruit, breadfruit and moringa value chains for export markets.

All of us can get involved in building a water and food secure future, leaving no one behind.