SE022 Nutrition Smart Agriculture: contributing to nutrition outcomes via smart investments in farms and agribusinesses. Interventions to increase profits and improve nutrition for better food systems

Organizers

  • World Bank Group
  • Global Alliance for Imrpoved Nutrition (GAIN)
  • FAO
  • IFAD
  • Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)/ Bioversity
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

The pathways through which agriculture and food systems can affect nutrition are collectively known as nutrition sensitive. Nutrition-smart investments in agriculture have the double objective of contributing to the improvement of human nutritional status while achieving the farm and/or agribusiness-level objective of increasing profitability - the driver for business investment. Although there are existing agriculture technologies and practices, such as biofortification, that can be considered "nutrition smart", these are not the only ones, and many are not recognized as "smart", and thus not necessarily supported by existing agriculture public policies and programs. Therefore, identifying nutrition smart agriculture interventions could be the way to attract the attention of public sector, in particular Ministries of Agriculture, towards the importance of the sector's contribution to the nutrition agenda. It would provide a clear menu of opportunities to crowd in the farming and agribusiness sectors to support food system policy and program reforms that have a positive impact on nutrition outcomes. These are no-regret-type of interventions that Ministries of Agriculture could do regardless of multisectoral coordination. These supply-side only interventions could complement the nutrition sensitive agenda, where multisectoriality and interinstitutional coordination have been seen as a barrier to integrating nutrition into the agriculture development agenda of countries.

The side event will discuss the:

  • importance of balancing multisectoriality vs. sectoral approaches in integrating nutrition into agriculture development interventions
  • need to communicate the opportunity for agribusiness and nutrition objectives to converge
  • experience with existing efforts to foster this alignment between the double objective (e.g. donor-funded initiatives encouraging the supply of nutrient-dense foods that have emerged, such as GAIN's Marketplace for Nutritious Foods; or companies' adoption of hybrid and social business models to develop future market opportunities)
  • potential of nutrition smart agriculture to guide farmer and agribusiness decisions to make available a diversified, safe, affordable, nutrient-rich foods.

The event will also showcase a preliminary version of the nutrition smart agriculture country profile that aims to provide a developing snapshot of country-specific agricultural and nutritional challenges, while advancing recommendations on entry points for investment and what type of nutrition smart agriculture interventions could be developed.

Key speakers/presenters

Welcoming Remarks

  • Dr. Anna Lartey, Director, Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO
  • His excellency, Ambassador and Permanent Representative Fidèle Sambassi Khakessa, Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Rome, Italy 

Moderator and Presenter

  • Aira Htenas, Agriculture Economist, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, World Bank 

Panelists

  • Dr. Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, Head of the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Program, International Food Policy Research Institute, IFPRI 
  • Dr. Joaquin Arias, Technical Specialist for Strategic Analysis for Agriculture (CAESPA), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA 
  • Dr. James Garrett, Senior Research Fellow, Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT
  • Margarita Astrálaga, Director, Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division, International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD
  • Dr. Rosa Rolle, Senior Enterprise Development Officer and Agro-Food Industry Group Leader, ESN, FAO
  • Preeti Ahuja, Practice Manager, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, Word Bank
  • Hideya Yamada, Vice President for Food, Agriculture and Nutrition, Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA
  • Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, SUN

Presenter and Closing Remarks

  • Augustin Baharanyi, Director, Directorate of Studies and Planning, Ministry of Agriculture, Democratic Republic of Congo

Main themes/issues discussed

The event introduced the concept of nutrition smart agriculture to a wide audience, and its potential to guide supply-side decisions to make available diversified, safe, and nutrient-rich foods. Nutrition-smart investments in agriculture are those that achieve the double objective of contributing to improving human nutritional status while increasing farm and/or agribusiness-level productivity or revenue – the drivers for agribusiness investment.  

The event discussed the importance of balancing multisectoriality vs. sectoral approaches in integrating nutrition into agriculture development interventions, and how nutrition smart agriculture practices and technologies are no-regret-type of interventions that agriculture sector ministries could promote regardless of multisectoral coordination on the nutrition agenda.

The event also showcased a preliminary version of the nutrition smart agriculture country profile for the Democratic Republic of Congo that aims to provide a developing snapshot of country-specific agricultural and nutritional challenges, while advancing recommendations on entry points for investment and what type of nutrition smart agriculture interventions could be developed.

Summary of key points

Multisectoriality and interinstitutional coordination have been seen as a barrier to integrating nutrition into the agriculture development agenda of countries, so the side event discussed how nutrition smart agriculture interventions (with a focus on supply-side interventions) could be an entry point for the wider nutrition sensitive agenda.  It re-confirmed that the objective of this new approach is to continue to support the nutrition-sensitive agriculture agenda (that focuses on both the consumption and production sides), and to advocate for coordination with ministries of health and other stakeholders in combating malnutrition holistically, while promoting a focus on two dimensions within the Agri-food system: i) stronger supplies of quality, safe, nutritious and diverse foods on the one hand, and ii) associated improvements in sales, incomes and socio-economic empowerment of the agri-food producers, leading to greater incentivization and therefore sustainability for the production of such food supplies,  that the sector can bring forward as a solution to the table. 

The representatives of international research institutes and multilateral financial institutes on the panel brought their perspectives on how the approach can help re-energize the nutrition and agriculture discussion at the local level. The experience with Climate Smart Agriculture analyses and profiles was presented as an example of how Nutrition Smart Agriculture information can have impact on project design and investment.

The Government of DRC, and in particular the Ministry of Agriculture, committed to integrating nutrition into agriculture policies and programs, and stated that it wants to support smallholder farmers and agri-entrepreneurs adopt improved practices and technologies that are climate and nutrition smart. 

Key take away messages

  • Nutrition Smart Agriculture is an approach that allows for a convergence of nutrition, income/employment generation and competitiveness objectives for farmers and agri-entrepreneurs.  It demonstrates that the agriculture sector does not have to forego revenues or productivity to contribute to nutrition.
  • The agriculture sector must act with a multitude of sectors and stakeholders, if the desired impact is a reduction in malnutrition. 
  • The Nutrition Smart Agriculture country profile allows for better articulation of how agriculture programs can contribute to nutrition initiatives at country level and gets a discussion going on better ways to collaborate across sectors.
  • Collaboration with the health sector, as well as in the potable water, sanitation, and social protection sectors et al is needed.  Both, public and private sector actions are also key.  
CFS 46 Side Event: SE022 Nutrition Smart Agriculture: contributing to nutrition outcomes via smart investments in farms and agribusinesses. Interventions to increase profits and improve nutrition for better food systems.

 

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