Tropical fruits are important crops to developing countries, both from a nutritional and a commercial perspective. They are relatively cheap and are an accessible source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other phenolic compounds that are vital to human health, reducing the incidence of micronutrient malnutrition that leads to stunting and wasting in children below 5 years of age. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than 90% of tropical fruits are grown in developing countries and significantly contribute to the income in smallholder farming communities.
While they are mostly cultivated for domestic consumption, trade volumes have been consistently increasing over the years. The expansion of the tropical fruit industry relies on institutional support for the continuous improvements in production, postharvest, and marketing. Addressing the gaps in the supply chain through effective policies, technology interventions, capacity building, development of quality standards, and the formation of legal commercial entities can improve fruit quality and increase the income of small farmers.
Supporting the growth of the tropical fruit industry around the world will significantly contribute towards the United Nation’s sustainable development goal of zero hunger and no poverty by 2030. However, steps have to be taken to implement sustainable food production systems that remain resilient amidst the shocks brought about by climate change. Improving the genetic diversity of crops and preserving our ecosystems will strengthen our capacity to adapt to extreme weather, drought, flooding, and pests and diseases.
Cognizant to these issues, the International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNet), the Philippine Fruits Association, Inc. (PFA) and the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry, Philippines (BPI) are jointly organizing the International Symposium on Tropical Fruits: Towards Sustainable Fruit Production and Global Food Security on 29 August – 03 September 2016 in Davao City, Philippines with support from FAO and the private sector.
Blessed with favorable conditions for the production of tropical fruits, the Philippines is an ideal venue for the Symposium. It is one of the major producers and exporters of banana, mango, pineapple, and papaya. Minor fruit species such as rambutan, mangosteen, dragonfruit, lansium, durian, and jackfruit are also grown locally for domestic consumption. Davao province is considered as the fruit basket of the Philippines. We are fortunate to conduct the Symposium shortly after the Kadayawan harvest festival.