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FAO Food for the Cities

FAO Food for the Cities (FCIT).

Since 2007 the world's population is predominantly urban. FAO has been following with attention the acceleration of urbanisation over the last 20 years and its implications for the Organisation. FAO's Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and corresponding Medium Term Plans therefore identified Food for the Cities as a Priority Area for Inter-disciplinary Action.

Join the FCIT D-Group discussion list that brings together people committed to work on the issue related to food, agriculture, urbanization and cities. The Dgroups was set up in 2002 as an online platform offering tools and services that bring individuals and organisations together in the international development community.

The “food-for-cities” Dgroups discussion list deals, in a city related approach, with themes such as: right to food, nutrition, emergency operations, production and marketing, natural resources management and land tenure, local governance, and rural-urban linkages, and much more. It contributes to a local food system approach centred on cities.

It is an open platform, with moderated inscription. It brings together people from the public sector (national and local governments, municipalities, and international organizations), private sector, academics, NGOs and civil society.

To join in the network, connect to or contact Francesca Gianfelici and Julien Custot.


AGP assists Member Countries in designing strategies and policies for the FAO logointensification and diversification of urban and peri-urban horticulture (fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, mushrooms and ornamentals) and for the introduction, assessment and management of industrial crops and selected bioenergy crop options. The main purpose is to move from subsistence farming to income-generating agriculture by adding value to products to achieve greater returns for producers, and catalyzing public-private linkages between producers, processors, marketing chains and governments. 

Please click here to visit the FAO-AGP-Horticulture website.

FAO coordinates the production of a new book, "Africa Agro-biodiversity Vol. 1: Fruits and Vegetables"

The major objectives of the project are to:

  • develop an illustrated Atlas on African agro-biodiversity, volume 1: fruits and vegetables
  • propose an action plan to promote indigenous fruits and vegetables in Africa


The Project will produce a concise illustrated book on Africa agro-biodiversity targeting 40 indigenous promising and/or endangered fruits and vegetables of Africa. This will include both the well-known and widely distributed ones, as well as the locally important and the promising underutilized ones.

The proposed project will be coordinated by FAO and implemented by PROTA (Nairobi) with the collaboration of The World Agroforestry Centre, Bioversity International (Nairobi) and other stackholders (e.g. GlobalHort, INRAB, Museums of Kenya, NIHORT, World Vegetable Center).

By 2050, the world population will exceed 9 billion people of which more than 68% will be living in cities. To feed this growing population, FAO estimates that an average annual increase in production of 44 million metric tons per year to be sustained for 40 years must be attained. The situation may be further compounded by the scarcity of natural resources required for agriculture and the impact of climate change.

For many people in Africa, basically, food means cereals, starchy root crops and at a certain extend for the “happy few”, meat and fish. Fruits and vegetables are considered as just a by-product to add some flavor but are rarely contemplated as a main source of food. Indeed, in many African countries, since the independence, governmental priorities in food crop production have largely resulted in the promotion of the major cereals: wheat, rice and maize. Those cereals have become food staples in countries where they traditionally have had little dietary significance. In these countries, food and nutrition security policies have ignored fruits and vegetables which are the more diverse and abundant natural source of food throughout the continent. This situation leads to vulnerability and enters into migration, food shortage, and serious malnutrition especially in the low income groups. True security lies in diversity and a variety of food is needed to supplement the cereal staples in order to provide a nutritionally balanced diet. The time to address cross-cutting initiatives that involve agriculture, nutrition and health is long overdue in Africa.

Fruit and vegetables are recognized as essential to good nutrition and prevention of numerous diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) and FAO recommend a dietary intake of more than 400g of fruits and vegetables per day to prevent malnutrition. Fruits and vegetables represent unique sources of a diversity of micronutrients and other bioactive substances such as polyphenols, glucosinolates that are excellent blot clot fighters. Fruits and vegetables can play a crucial role in combating food insecurity, especially the so-called hidden hunger caused by micronutrient deficiencies and they offer the only practical and sustainable way to ensure their supply. Fruits and vegetables are a critical, irreplaceable dietary component.

Fruits and vegetables are becoming the most important horticultural produce on the international market. Trade in fruits and vegetables represents almost 80 percent of the world horticulture market. According to Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the value of all fruits and vegetables traded globally is more than double the same for cereals. Unfortunately, only a small number of species of fruits and vegetables have been promoted and traded while hundreds of other locally valued fruits and vegetables have rarely received the necessary attention from policy makers and development agencies. Inventories from Kenya, Togo and Benin for instance, show that up to 300 species could be consumed as vegetable at country level. These species, important to the local communities who collect them from the wild, are little known outside their region and therefore are frequently overlooked by researchers, policymakers and development organizations. A few fruit bearing plants are tended in natural stands but only a handful of species have been selected for improvement and domestication. A recent document in the series of “The lost crops of Africa: fruits” covers only 24 species out of 611 listed by PROTA. The knowledge on indigenous fruits and vegetables of tropical Africa still requires a comprehensive documentation as many of them exhibit great potentials. In addition, it is well known that African crop species and their cultivation techniques differed according to natural conditions of the various environments, dietary habits and social customs. Africa's indigenous fruits and vegetables can contribute to livelihoods improvement, environmental stability and economic development if given the appropriate technical, socio-economic and institutional support.

Other FAO Links

Capacity Building Portal (FAO)

Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness

Promotion of Fruit and Vegetables (PROFAV or PROFEL)

School Garden Program (PDF)

HORTIVAR is FAO´s database on performances of horticulture cultivars in relation to agro-ecological conditions, cultivation practices, the occurrence of pests and diseases and timing of the production. It covers six categories of horticultural crops: fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, ornamentals, mushrooms, herbs and condiments.

Réseau Africain pour le Développement de l'Horticulture (RADHORT)

Growing Greener Cities: Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture

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