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Food-based approach

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Nutrition in emergencies


  • Healthy, well-nourished people are both the outcome of successful social and economic development as well as an essential input into the development process.
  • After years of steady progress, the combined effects of high food prices, the global economic and financial crisis, climate change and underinvestment in agriculture are threatening the achievement of the nutrition-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • With up to 70 to 80% of the poor in developing countries dependent upon agriculture for their income and livelihoods, food and nutrition security is unlikely to be achieved without considerable attention being given to the food and agriculture sector.
  • Nutrition-sensitive agricultural development and food-based approaches are sustainable strategies for eradicating hunger and malnutrition including micronutrient deficiencies. FAO advocates for the incorporating of explicit nutrition objectives into agriculture, health, education, economic and social protection policies in developing countries.
  • By applying a nutrition lens along the entire food chain from farm to fork, critical control points may be identified where the foods 'nutrient value' is at greatest risk of being reduced and steps taken to safeguard the nutritional quality of the food. At the same time nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food-based interventions give priority to supporting the livelihoods of farmers and communities.
  • Nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food-based approaches narrow the 'nutrition gap', the gap between what foods are available and what foods need to be available for good nutrition. They do this by increasing year round availability, access to and consumption of a diverse range of foods necessary for a healthy diet.
  • Nutrition-sensitive food and agriculture-based strategies including food production, dietary diversification and food fortification ensure sustainable food and nutrition security, improve diets, combat micronutrient deficiencies, and raise levels of nutrition.

Watch why agriculture is essential for achieving food and nutrition security