Supporting local farmers and food producers is crucial to promote sustainable, healthy diets in a context where overweight and obesity rates around the world continue to grow mainly due to the over consumption of highly processed foods.
In line with this, FAO is partnering with the Rome-based Centro Agroalimentare Roma (CAR) by providing a marketplace for regionally sourced fresh fruits and vegetables on the premises of the UN agency.
The agreement was signed today by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu and Fabio Massimo Pallottini, President of Centro Agroalimentare Roma (CAR), a joint-stock company under public control and one of Europe's largest distribution centers for farm fresh products. Dealing with over 170 farmers in the Lazio region, CAR is a member of the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) - a non-profit association that aims to promote the international exchange of information on wholesale and retail markets, with a view to improving their construction, organization and management.
Noting that the UN Agency is proud to have its headquarters in Rome, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu stressed his commitment to supporting local farmers and food producers. "We all need to improve our nutrition by eating more seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables," he said, "and I am well aware of the high quality and diversity of the Italian and Roman agricultural production. I am therefore delighted to launch this small but meaningful initiative". He also noted that FAO employees in Rome come from 180 different countries and this would also offer an opportunity to promote products from the Lazio region internationally.
Fabio Massimo Pallottini, FAO Director-General of Centro Agroalimentare Roma said: ""We are very proud to sign this agreement with FAO, which has always been our preferential stakeholder in our promotional activity to support local production. This will give us further opportunity to give value to the excellence from our territory, by promoting the freshest and the tastiest products passing daily through the CAR. It is also a commitment to support a healthier and a more informed style of nutrition"."
CAR will select farmers with the aim of making participation as inclusive as possible. Products will be available for purchase to around 3000 people - including employees, contractors, delegates and visitors - that enter the FAO headquarters every day.
The farmers' market will be organized once a week, starting on 11 December 2019.
The agreement comes just a week after the high-level seminar, organized by the Italian Government, on the importance of the Mediterranean and other traditional healthy diets for advancing the efforts towards a food system that respects the environment, culture and well-being of people.
This initiative is another example of FAO's social and environmental corporate responsibility, which sees the Organization donating - through its catering service providers - food and unsold meals to local food banks, as well as striving to reduce emissions, increase efficiency, and integrate sustainability into its daily operations in the areas of facilities management, travel and procurement.