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The Fruit and Vegetables for Sustainable Healthy Diets (FRESH) initiative of CGIAR has been launched in the Philippines to address the global challenge of poor diets and promote better nutrition. FRESH focuses on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, enhancing diet quality, and improving health outcomes while promoting sustainable livelihoods. The initiative recognizes the interconnectedness of food systems, human health, and the environment, aiming to transform food systems in response to the ongoing climate crisis while empowering women and youth.

FRESH was officially launched on May 16, 2023, at the Conrad Hotel in Manila. The event, organized by the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), gathered stakeholders committed to promoting sustainable diets and improving nutrition in the Philippines.

IIRR-Philippines, a key partner of FRESH, was invited to attend the launch. During the event, Emily Monville-Oro, IIRR’s Philippines Country Director and Acting Asia Director, participated in a panel discussion, sharing the organization’s work in the field. Research outputs were also shared by Program Manager Ma. Shiela Anunciado during a side event meeting. The event provided an opportunity to showcase collaborative efforts and highlight progress in promoting sustainable diets and improving nutrition in the country.

Dr. Danny Hunter, a principal scientist from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, recently met with the IIRR team to explore potential collaborations for the current year. The meeting involved UPLB – Institute of Plant Breeding and iCrops, discussing the development of concept notes for FRESH in the coming years. Comprehensive concept notes were prepared with the expert guidance of Dr. Julian Gonsalves, IIRR’s FRESH Project Advisor. These notes serve as vital blueprints for future activities, aligning with the initiative’s goals.

IIRR plans to continue its efforts in agrobiodiversity conservation and focus on improving the school food environment. The organization recognizes the critical role of educational institutions in shaping dietary habits and promoting healthy eating practices among children and youth.

The launch of FRESH in the Philippines is an important step toward promoting sustainable and healthy diets. With the collaborative efforts of organizations like IIRR and the commitment of stakeholders, FRESH aims to transform food systems, improve nutrition, and empower communities. By prioritizing indigenous fruit and vegetable consumption, enhancing diet quality, and addressing sustainability and climate change challenges, FRESH lays the foundation for a healthier and more resilient future.

Photo Credit: FRESH-Phil Secretariat