Improving nutrition through home gardening

A new FAO training manual aims to help community development agents in Africa promote home gardening as a step towards enhanced food security and better community and household nutrition.

Improving nutrition through home gardening -- A training package for preparing field workers in Africa is designed for agricultural extension agents as well as other field workers who are involved in nutrition, home economics, health and community development.

Home gardens are found in many humid and subhumid areas of Africa. These gardens offer great potential for improving household food supplies. The home garden can be used to raise many kinds of vegetables, fruits, staple crops, medicinal plants and spices, as well as animals and fish. Even a small plot of land, if well managed, can make a substantial contribution towards meeting household food needs and improving nutrition.

This new training package was prepared by FAO's Nutrition Programmes Service. It was adapted, at the request of nutritionists and agricultural professionals in Africa, from an earlier publication prepared for field workers in Southeast Asia. While similar to the previous publication in its easy-to-follow approach, the new package has been modified to address the eating patterns and agro-ecological, climatic and socio-cultural conditions found in Africa.

The publication is available in English, with a French translation forthcoming. It can be ordered through the Sales and Marketing Group, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy; by fax at +39 (06) 5705 3360; or by email at

28 June 2001

Food and Nutrition Division Web site
Nutrition, Education and Training Web site
FAO Publications Catalogue


New web site on Ethics in Food and Agriculture

Ethics in food and agriculture is the subject of a new Web site launched recently within the FAO site.

Major changes in the fields of food and agriculture in recent years, including accelerating technological development, have brought to the fore a variety of ethical questions of relevance to food security and sustainable rural development. As the lead agency within the UN system on matters relating to food and agriculture, FAO takes these questions seriously and has therefore designated ethics in food and agriculture as a priority area of interdisciplinary work. The new Web site reflects the Organization's increased focus on the subject.

The Web site includes information on a new series of FAO publications dedicated to ethics in food and agriculture. Information on FAO's independent Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture is also available.

The Web site, available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish, can be accessed from the FAO homepage. It was developed by FAO's Sub-Committee on Ethics in Food and Agriculture.

18 June 2001

Web page: Ethics in food and agriculture




"Sharing the Knowledge" -- new video out

Filmed in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, a new video highlights the important role that the traditional knowledge of rural men and women plays in their daily lives. Moreover, this 12-minute video illustrates the importance of maintaining and sharing this knowledge globally.

Through generations of experience, men and women farmers have developed vast knowledge about the management of the agricultural ecosystems that they depend upon for their livelihoods. Examples shown in the video of this type of local knowledge include the use medicinal plants for human and animal health care, the selection and breeding of livestock suited to the local environment, and rural farmers' preference for local varieties of seeds over commercial seeds.

While stressing the importance of sharing this knowledge in order to benefit future generations and communities in other parts of the world, the video also raises questions about how best to preserve traditional crops and animals, and how to ensure that custodians of the knowledge benefit from what they know.

The video is produced by the FAO Local Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme in collaboration with two other FAO programmes promoting sustainable use of biodiversity in the southern African region.

For more information, please contact Regina Laub ( or Lars Otto Naess (, focal points for the Local Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme.

15 June 2001

View the video "Sharing the Knowledge"
Local Indigenous Knowledge Systems Web site
Sustainable Development Department Web site


New Web site highlights participatory approaches


Information and literature
on participatory approaches to sustainable development and food security are featured in a new Web site launched in May within the FAO site. The site, entitled, "Participation: sharing our resources", also highlights participatory methodologies and field tools, each presented with a comprehensive description, information on application possibilities and contact links to experts.

A library section contains short abstracts of the documents available, as well as direct links to the online documents, to the FAO publications and FAO sales catalogues and to the document order form of the FAO Library.

A section called "lessons learned" is dedicated to sharing experiences gained through the practical application of participatory processes in FAO-supported projects or programmes.

The Web site, available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, was developed by the Informal Working Group on Participatory Approaches and Methods to Support Sustainable Livelihoods and Food Security (IWG-PA). The activities of this inter-agency group are facilitated by the Rural Institutions and Participation Service of FAO's Sustainable Development Department. The site grew out of a truly participatory process involving a broad range of FAO departments.

Users of the Web site are invited to participate in its further development by submitting links and relevant publications or by writing articles for the section "lessons learned".

16 May 2001

Web site "Participation: sharing our resources"



FAO raises agricultural issues at UN Conference on Least Developed Countries


Food security and the development of the agricultural sector in the world's poorest countries is a major focus of discussion at the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UNLDC III) being held in Brussels from 14 to 20 May 2001. Participating at the Conference are FAO and other UN agencies as well as UN Member States and non-governmental organizations.

Least developed countries (LDCs) are countries with a gross domestic product per capita below US$800, weak human resources and a low level of economic diversification. Agriculture is the mainstay of most LDCs' economies, underpinning their food security, export earnings and rural development. Currently, 49 countries with a combined population of more than 600 million people are identified as LDCs.

Most LDCs are at an early stage of agricultural technology and the potential to increase productivity is enormous. In the UNLDC III's thematic session "Enhancing Productive Capacities: The Agricultural Sector and Food Security" FAO presents two papers: The Role of Agriculture in the Development of LDCs and their Integration into the World Economy and FAO Technical Assistance to Agriculture in the Least Developed Countries. In addition, FAO has produced a compendium of Key Agricultural Statistical Indicators for LDCs. These materials examine the role of the agricultural sector in the LDCs, describe FAO's assistance to LDCs and put forward recommendations for critical actions to spur agricultural growth by both LDC governments and their development partners.

The Conference is being held on the premises of the European Parliament and features an FAO exhibit on food insecurity in the least developed countries.

11 May 2001

In relation to the UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf points out that there still is a lack of priority at the political level for fighting hunger and poverty (2min43sec). In Realaudio (335 Kb), in mp3 (1240 Kb)

Official Web site for the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries
FAO papers for the conference:


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