Deuxième Conférence internationale sur la nutrition (CIN2), 19-21 novembre 2014

Opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean to mainstreaming nutrition into agriculture

Diego Arias Carballo and Barbara Coello

With a population of 590 million, food security is an important challenge for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. Although the average prevalence of undernutrition in the region has decreased during the last decade, the rate of reduction is unequally distributed across countries and across households. Furthermore, the countries that have been the most successful in reducing undernutrition are now facing high overweight rates and obesity.
Agriculture is a key economic and social sector for most LAC countries. Recently, however, the raise in demand for non-food products, such as biofuels, combined with higher market potential for LAC food products in developed countries has changed the dynamics of the sector. We show that countries in LAC where agriculture makes up a large part of the economy score poorly in terms of nutritional status of the most vulnerable groups, hence creating a nutritional-agricultural paradox.
Improving the nutritional status of the most vulnerable populations in LAC requires re-thinking the agricultural and food systems, to turn local agriculture and food production into a pathway to mitigate food insecurity in a sustainable manner. Expanding agricultural incomes and food production is necessary but not sufficient for food security; to achieve the latter, high quality food (in terms of diversity, nutrient content and safety) should be made both accessible and affordable for the most vulnerable. This paper presents evidences, cross-cutting principles, lessons learned, best practices and a set of tools to help policy makers to mainstream nutrition into agricultural sector policies and investments in LAC.