Dear Prof Swaminathan and Dr Dangour,
Greetings from Nepal...!!
Thank you so much for initiating this discussion forum and I am following it keenly to learn the global experiences on the topic which I believe is still a grey area despite the fact agriculture sector has huge potential to improve the nutrition. As part of ongoing project called "Agriculture and Food Security Project" funded by Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), we are trying to integrate crop, livestock and nutrition for synergistic effect. It would be too early to make any conclusion as the project is in early stage of implementation, however, there are few innovations this project has adopted in terms of integrating agriculture and nutrition.
The first and foremost initiative we are doing is to use all the contact points of health and agriculture sector to provide nutrition education and behaviour change communication on agri or food based nutrition thereby increasing the knowledge and skill base of farmers and women who are involved in the small farming. The nutrition has been integrated in the crop (major crops) and livestock FFS where the female farmer groups are oriented and demonstrated on improving the nutrition practices. Moreover, they are oriented about the nutritional importance of local production and consumption of indigenous and underutilised crops, vegetables and fruits. Similarly, there are FFS on goat and poultry where the farmer groups meet once a month. During the meeting, the farmers are also given messages on the importance of animal source proteins and micronutrients. For addressing the problem of high rate of micronutrient deficiencies, 1000 days mothers are trained on how to establish home nutrition gardens and poultry at a demonstration field known as "village model farm". Later, they apply this learning in their own land where they grow seasonal vegetables and fruits. Given the poor practices related to dietary diversity in complementary feeding, the mothers are also oriented on how to make nutrient dense complementary feeding for children using local available foods, locally grown vegetables and animal source foods with diversified diet. These are demonstrated regularly. The mother's group is going to establish a food preparation, preservation and processing unit where they would gather once a month to demonstrate locally improved practices for preservation of locally grown food, improved cooking practices and how to minimise nutrient loss during post-harvest, storage and cooking.
In addition, the farmer's group, mother's group especially the 1000-days mothers are reached by regular HH visit, their monthly meetings where they discuss on range of issues related to maternal, infant and young child feeding practices. For this, the frontline workers of both agriculture and health functionaries are trained on "agriculture-health-nutrition". This has resulted in great understanding the importance of agriculture for nutrition security among the health workers while agriculture frontline workers have been convinved about the need of nutrition-sensitive agriculture.
In course of time, I hope this would have significant impact on the nutritional outcome especially in improving the dietary practices at the household level, eventually improving the nutritional status of the vulnerable population. My observation especially with groups involved in goat and poultry FFS has great potential in increased production, income generation and consumption of animal source proteins in rural areas. This is one area that could be explored through rigorous research elsewhere in rural area of developing countries. The project is also promoting some technologies that could be used in agriculture sector which can minimise the work-burden on women thereby increasing their time to care for children, family members and of their own. However, the impact needs to be assessed.
The real success of these interventions and innovations is yet to be realised as the project has just started to implement its activities on the ground.
Look forwards to hearing other's views as well. You could reach me for any detail related to the project activities at: