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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: How can value chains be shaped to improve nutrition?

Working Group on Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains of the Rome-based Agencies
Working Group on Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains of the Rome-based AgenciesItaly

Dear participants,

We, members of the RBA WG, want to express our very sincere gratitude for sharing your experiences, thoughts and projects in this discussion forum. We are delighted with the rich exchanges that we’ve had over the last few weeks.

The Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains (NSVC) framework is envisioned as a tool to identify challenges and opportunities for nutrition at different stages of the VC. The summary of this discussion (which is currently underway) will help us refine and improve our approach to NSVC. In the meantime we would like to bring your attention to some opportunities and challenges raised by participants during our discussion:

  • Opportunities: Stimulating demand for nutritious food through better nutrition awareness, education and marketing strategies; diversifying agricultural production and increasing the availability of naturally nutrient-dense foods; fortification and biofortification; strengthening value chains for local and traditional foods to meet nutrient needs and diet diversification of local populations; addressing food safety issues as well as reducing food loss and waste as a way to increase availability of safe nutritious foods in the market; etc.
  • Challenges: Value chains should be not only nutrition-sensitive, but also economically viable. A number of questions then arise: how can we make a better business case for nutrition-sensitive value chains? How can we address the fragmentation and lack of coordination among value chain actors and across sectors? How to ensure inclusion of the poor in nutrition-sensitive value chain approaches, both as producers (with limited assets, access to services and capacities) and as consumers (with limited purchasing power)? Another set of challenges revolves around the need to adopt a more holistic approach to NSVC development: how to ensure environmental sustainability of NSVC development? What challenges and risks need to be addressed to make NSVC gender-sensitive? How can we move from the commodity-focused nature of VCs to an approach that addresses various VCs at a time with the objective of improving diets?

The discussion also showcased a number of examples of the initiatives that have aimed to leverage the power of markets and VC for nutrition and the experiences that will also enrich our understanding of NSVC development in practice. Participants also discussed the importance of the different impact pathways (income pathway, own production pathway and market pathway), along with the 2 key mediators of impact, nutrition awareness and, more prominently, women's empowerment which emerged as a central element for NSVC development. A conducive and enabling environment is also required for VC to significantly and sustainable contribute to more nutritious food systems, hence the importance of strong government engagement and coordination among different sectors and stakeholder groups.

While we must bring this discussion to a close, we would like to invite you to send any additional contributions directly to within the next few days. We will do our best to incorporate the outputs of this consultation to refine our approach to NSVC development and to define joint work of the RBA WG on NSVC. An updated version of the Paper will be developed and shared with FSN participants in due course.

We thank you again for your contributions to this discussion.

Kind regards,

The members of the Working Group on Nutrition-Sensitive Value Chains of the Rome-based Agencies