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Contributions for Nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems

28.07.2013
C.Palanivelayutham

Success story

Moringa (Drum stick) Moringa  oleifera  cultivation  and consumption of various Parts  of this crop like leaves and pods,  enhances the nutritional status of human being. The following nutrients are present in this crop.

  • Moringa leaves are having 40% of protein with all the nine essential amino acids.
  • The amount of Beta carotene , vitamin C and vitamin E found in moringa exceed those amounts commonly found in other  plant parts.
  • Beta carotene (Pro vitamin A) moringa  leaves contain beta carotene than carrots about 3 to 5 times are more. Vit.A is the most important vitamin for immune protection against heart disease and keep  harmfull  lipoprotein containing chloestrol from damaging heart.
  • Vitamin C Just one ounce of Moringa leaves contains the daily recommended  amountof Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E is a potent anti oxidant that helps prevent premature ageing and degenerative disease including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
  • Vitamin B1 is the vital for production of energy in each cells and it plays essential role in the development of carbohydrates.
  • Vitamin B2 (Ribo flavin) also present in moringa leaves.

Based on the above reasons In South parts of Tamil Nadu  in India, Farmers are interesting in cultivation of this crop. In Tuticorin DT. Of Tamil Nadu state  in India the Teri land (Red soil with moderate water holding capacity) farmers raising this crop to the extent of more than 2000 ha.

In this crop cultivation recent trend is instead of growing perennial Moringa these farmers are preferred new varieties of Annual moringa varieties like   PKM1 PKM2,which are having 18 months life period. The propagation of this crop by seeds , these seeds were sown in polythene bags  and after 20 to 25 days the seedlings were transplanted in main field.

Farmers are using Drip irrigation with fertigation to get high yield from this crop.The productivity of this crop up to 7.5 tonnes/Ha. and  1250 kgs   of leaves are gathered from this crop per  tree per year.

In south Indian food esp. in Tamil Nadu state the leaves, and pods are widely used for culinary purpose. The moringa pods are now exported to other state. Now these farmers trying to make powder from these leaves of this crop, which has enormous export value and  help full  for reducing  malnutrition.

Sustainability of growing of this crop only based on the nutritive value and food system followed by these people.

See the attachment:NUTRITION.docx
Kuruppacharil V.Peter World Noni Research Foundation, India
26.07.2013
Kuruppacharil V.Peter

A nutrition garden as designed at Kerala Agricultural University envisages growing of vegetables, fruits and spices to meet the nutritional requirement of a family of five people.

Vegetables consist of leafy, pulses, fruits and several underexploited and underutilized plants. Fruits consist of locally adapted crops like guava, aonla, pineapple, gooseberry, Surinam cherry. Leaf vegetables are amaranth, Ceylon spinach, beat leaf, chekkurmanis, amaranth, basella, basil and leaves of many tubers. Pulses are cowpea, pea, beans and several underutilized but locally adapted crops.

The nutrition garden is managed by family labour. Manures are composts from family wastes. Techniques like drip fertigation, mulching, integrated pest disease management and value addition of raw products into dehydrated fruits and vegetables are the distinct advantages of a nutrition garden.

More details are available in the booklet NUTRITION GARDEN published by Directorate of Extension, Kerala Agricultural University.

Dr K V Peter

Luis Lobo FAO, Chile
26.07.2013
Luis

I would like to share with you a specific case of how the nutritional issue facilitates the positioning of the family farming in a context of achieving food security and nutrition.

The situation in Ecuador in the field of public procurement linked to family farming (FF) is very interesting, opening a window of opportunity to support the reengineering of the School Feeding Program (SFP) toward a more comprehensive and mostly linking school feeding with local procurement from the FF.

Context and characterization of this window of opportunity:

• The school feeding program (SFP) is managed by the Ministry of Education. This program is characterized by highly centralized and concentrated in big suppliers, most multinational companies, whose design and implementation criteria are mainly: cost efficiency, coverage and logistics issues. This has led to the exclusion of the small farmers.

• The  government of Ecuador has new evidences about the School Feeding Program, based on the latest nutrition survey conducted in the country by the Ministry of Health. This survey shows reduction of the values of undernourishment rates but new challenges are emerging as obesity in children school age, so that the problem of malnutrition is present and have a new face, which calls into question the quality of the current menus of the SFP, where de FF has a advantages comparatives

• The government has positioned the issue of FF in Ecuador with a constitutional framework that drives it; so the concept of sovereignty, that is recognize in de constitution of the country,  is linked to support small framers.

In this context and thanks, as you can see, of the nutrition issue, the situation is advancing to design and implementation of  the Food Supply Program (PSP) articulate with  the SFP, with the support of the Presidency of the Republic and under the tutelage of Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP) and the support of  Ministry of  Education,  more decentralized and aimed at FF.

In most countries of LAC, sustainability and success of these policies depends mostly of achieving the consolidation and transformation of the political will in institutional frameworks that allow SFP – FF policies to survive political and economic cycles [e.g. A national Law in Brazil mandates that at least 30% of food supply for SFPs must be from FF] and develop process to enhance its efficiency and quality of coordination in territory.  The case of Ecuador shows that this can be done wherever there is social consensus about the problem and its solutions and these are supported by political leadership.

Mr. Purnachandra Wasti Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, Nepal
26.07.2013
Purnachandra

Dear Moderators ( Jody and Leslie),

What an excellent and timely topic !  

I am very much enlightened with all the expert views on the topic from around the world. I hope this effort will help our ideas to cross the  our own boundary and reach the real actors of agriculture. 

This is the time in our history, where nutrition has been given so much priority through many initiatives. One of them is recent Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Initiatives which has gained a lot of attention from all the stakeholders including the donor community. SUN has equally emphasized on nutrition specific as well as nutrition sensitive interventions. In this context, the topic is very much relevant.  

Once again the multi-sectoral  role has been re-emphasized and the role agriculture can play has also been amplified. However, the efforts are still running short to orient the agriculture sector in the direction of fulfilling nutritional goals. The traditional role of agriculture has almost been forgotten in agriculture plans and policies. There are a a lot of efforts in making agriculture more profitable through commercialization, value addition and other market related interventions.

As a result of advocacy efforts at international  level, some of the countries ( as per my experience Nepal, Malawi and Uganda) countries have started adopting the term " food and nutrition security" in agriculture plans, policies and programmes. But in spirit, they have even deviated traditional "food security". The donors like World  Bank and other are more interested in making agriculture more profitable not more nutrition-sensitive. 

In addition, the following are some of the lackings in the developing countries especially in Asia and Africa:

1. The agricculture professionals are not well oriented on the importance of agriculture in solving the problem of malnutrition.

2. The agriculture extension system is not well- trained to deliver the knowledge and skill on making agriculture more nutrition sensitive.

3. The agriculture extension and health delivery system work separately, which completely overlooks the role of agriculture extension workers in sustainable solution of malnutrition.

4. The  whole agriculture system has inadequate knowledge base on how to make the agricultural programmes and projects more nutrition friendly.

5. The governments and the international actors for nutrition ( in most cases UN-UNICEF) has partnership with the health system, which has very less reach to agriculture system.

What can be done to make the agriculture and food system more nutrition sensitive ? Here are some points, these are not evidence supported arguments, but these are the experience based readings :

At Policy Level :

1. Governments should have a broader food and nutrition policy , where agriculture can be a part of the whole policy framework.

2. Wide participation of various stakeholders in the process of formulating policies.

3. International agencies including UN, should facilitate the process, build capacity and support but not create dependency.

4. The donors like world bank should also support projects with agricultural diversification not only for profitability but also for better nutritional outcomes

5. The industry should be encouraged and promoted for producing more nutritious products rather than empty calorie, fashioned junk foods.

 

At Implementation level :

6. Orientation, training of the agriculture cadres from top to the grassroots on programming for nutrition sensitive agriculture.

7. Training of farmers, themselves on making agriculture more nutritious by using innovative techniques such as rotational cropping, combinaiton of agriculutre and livestock, inter-cropping( beans in banana plantation, soybeans and beans with maize etc.)

8. The farmers should be educated not only the marketability of the particular crop but also the nutritional importance of it.

9. Nutrition education should be intensified through all the possible channels- schools, mass media etc. so that the demand for nutritionally important agriculture produce will be increased.

10. Nutrition Education is very  important ( as highlighted by FAO Colleagues)  for all the projects, even the agricultural projects with the objectives of income generation.

11. Capacity building of agriculture extension workers not only on better farming but also on post harvest handling,  processing and storage.

12. Academic institutions should offer courses education which promotes sustainable food and agriculture based interventions.

For partnership:

13. A greater partnership at least among agriculture, health and academia, if possible, education, local development.

14. Involvement of NGOs and CBOs in policy as well as other implementation level dialogues.

15. Private sector has an important role to play through social corporate responsibility by making their business more profitable and creating more employment and at the same time making it more nutrition friendly.

16.The children are the future of the nation. Involving children at schools as a change agents for nutrition sensitive agriculture will be very effective in adopting new agricultural and other food related practices.

These are not the exhaustive list but some triggering ideas, which can be helpful in keeping agriculture on track so that it not only provides livelihoods for millions poor farmers, makes agriculture more profitable, creates more employment, earns foreign exchange, at the same time if planned a little bit carefully helps solve the problem of malnutrition.

Now or never. Time has come, let's act now at our level and remind the policy makers of the conventional role of agriculture, make it a little bit of nutritious. No problem agriculture can earn more money, let's educate the farmers to spend wisely for the nutrition of the family.

Once again, I would like to thank the moderators and wish all the success in raising this issue to a greater height.

All the best,

Yours,

Purnachandra Wasti

Senior Food Research Officer

Department of Food Technology and Quality Control

Kathmandu, Nepal.

Stacia Nordin www.NeverEndingFood.org, Malawi
26.07.2013
Stacia Nordin

Where have we gone wrong to think that nutrients don't come from Agriculture and that Agriculture doesn't depend on healthy soil, water, air, plants and animals for healthy people?

Mr. Xavier Meignien International Institute of Refrigeration / Institut international ...
26.07.2013
Xavier

[texte français après le texte anglais]

Dear all,

Foods with high nutritional value are often perishable goods (fruit and vegetables, tubers, animal products).

Good food preservation is both a public health issue and an accessibility and availability issue.

Public health: It is important to ensure food safety by setting up a reliable quality control system. In addition, this is a question of consumer confidence. These controls should focus on quality parameters (pesticide residues, bacterial or viral infection, parasites ...) and properly applied methods such as temperature control throughout the cold chain.

Accessibility and availability: Post-harvest losses from all causes (handling, excessive temperatures ...) diminish availability to consumers. In some cases lack of suitable logistics mean certain products are not found in retail only a few dozen kilometres from production areas. Whichever the case, losses impact prices paid by consumers and those paid to the producer which discourages production.

The stakes are high because, according to a study by the FAO in 2011, post-harvest losses of perishable produce (until final sale to the consumer) represent about a third of production in developing countries (figures vary across regions and product categories).

[the International Institute of Refrigeration (IIR) is an intergovernmental organization;  Web site: http://www.iifiir.org ]

--------------

Bonjour à tous,

Les aliments à haute valeur nutritive sont souvent des produits périssables (fruits et légumes, tubercules, produits d’origine animale).

La bonne conservation de ces produits est à la fois un enjeu de santé publique et un enjeu d’accessibilité et de disponibilité.

Santé publique : il importe de veiller à la sécurité sanitaire des aliments, et pour cela de mettre en place un système de contrôle de qualité crédible ; c’est aussi une question de confiance des consommateurs ; ces contrôles doivent porter sur les paramètres de qualité (résidus de pesticides, contamination bactérienne ou virale, parasites…) et sur les moyens mis en œuvre (contrôle des températures tout le long de la chaîne par exemple)

Accessibilité et disponibilité : les pertes après-récolte, toutes causes confondues (manutention, températures excessives…) réduisent l’accessibilité pour les consommateurs ; dans certains cas, faute de logistique adaptée, certains produits sont introuvables à quelques dizaines de kilomètres des lieux de production ; dans tous les cas, les pertes ont un impact sur le prix payé par les consommateurs et celui payé au producteur, ce qui décourage la production.

L'enjeu est de taille puisque selon une étude de la FAO de 2011, les pertes de produits périssables après récolte (jusqu'à la vente au consommateur final) représentent de l'ordre du tiers de la production dans les pays en développement ( proportion variable selon les régions et les catégories de produits).

[L’Institut International du Froid (IIF) est une organisation intergouvernementale; site web: http://www.iifiir.org ]

Prabir Dutta Dg Foundation, India
26.07.2013
Prabir

Dear Sir,

It is well understood that foods of plant origin as well as animal origin are vital for nutrition enhancing agriculture. Organic agriculture is better. But plant origin agriculture is not sufficient as the plant protein does not contain all the essential amino acids with the exception soyabean. Whereas foods of animal origin can fill up the gap.

Best regards.

Yours sincerely,

(Dr)Prabir Dutta
India

Leslie Amoroso Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
26.07.2013
Leslie

Feedback by Jody Harris and Leslie Amoroso, facilitators

Dear all,

Many thanks to all those of you who have contributed to this discussion so far. This is a lively and rich exchange. In this last week we have received several posts providing comments both on the core background and expert papers, which represent some of the most current thinking in nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems. In the remaining few days of this discussion (ending Monday 29 July), we would like to strongly encourage those of you who wish to contribute but haven’t found the time to please do so, even briefly, because all the comments can contribute to further enrich the discussion. Again, we invite you to focus your comments on one or more of the core background and expert papers and on the three key questions on policy, programmes and partnerships based on your experience and views.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to your contributions.

Jody and Leslie

Dr. Corinna Hawkes World Cancer Research Fund International, United Kingdom
26.07.2013
Corinna

A critical issue for this online discussion forum is that the food system is an under-recognised domain for policy actions to promote higher quality diets for NCD prevention. Food systems are important for a whole host of reasons. Three of the most critical are that:

  • Policies implemented to promote healthy diets have repercussions upstream for the actors and activities in the agriculture and food systems. Due attention thus needs to be paid to anticipating/pre-empting perverse response.
  • Likewise, agrifood policies have repercussions downstream policies to promote healthy eating – their influence on food availability, affordability and acceptability may reinforce or undermine them.
  • There are a range of policy actions that can be implemented with the explicit intention of leveraging agriculture and food systems to improve dietary quality by influencing food availability, affordability and acceptability.

Yet to date, most actions in food systems to improve diet quality have been made in short food supply chains in the context of undernutrition. Interventions have also been limited to discrete parts of the supply chain. Rarely have approaches considered the long, more complex, often globalised, chains relevant to NCD prevention, nor had the objective of ensuring the whole supply chain is operating synergistically to achieve desired goals. This is ignoring the huge potential that levering long chains has to effect improvements for dietary quality and NCD prevention at the level of populations.

The process of levering long chains is going to require “policy coherence” i.e., the systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing policy actions across government departments and agencies creating synergies towards achieving the agreed objectives.

These points are further elaborated in the paper “Leveraging agriculture and food systems for healthier diets and noncommunicable disease prevention: the need for policy coherence” at: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/agn/pdf/HawkesICN2paper_Jul1.pdf

Dr. Anna Herforth Independent consultant, United States of America
25.07.2013
Anna

This contribution is to share recent activity on this topic among the 700-member independent Agriculture-Nutrition Community of Practice (Ag2Nut CoP), which encompasses many stakeholders:

Over the last two years, there has been an effort to harmonize existing recommendations on how to improve nutrition through agriculture. The outcome is represented as a set of Key Recommendations for Improving Nutrition through Agriculture: 10 key recommendations for programs, and 5 for policy.

(File available at:  http://unscn.org/files/Agriculture-Nutrition-CoP/Agriculture-Nutrition_Key_recommendations.pdf )

This effort was initiated by the formation of the volunteer Agriculture-Nutrition Community of Practice (Ag2Nut CoP) in 2010, now a group of 700 members worldwide.  We noticed that there was a lack of clarity around how agriculture could best improve nutrition, even though it was a growing priority to do so; for example the SUN Movement emphasized the need for nutrition-sensitive development, but had not specified what that would entail for agriculture.  Country governments, such as SUN early risers, were expressing interest in improving nutrition through agriculture, but were unable to benefit from global recommendations on the topic.  In the Ag2Nut CoP, however, we knew that such recommendations existed, as many of the members had worked on writing about the topic for our respective institutions.

In order to take stock of existing recommendations, and to assess their degree of alignment, the FAO supported an extensive review, facilitated by Ag2Nut CoP participation, of available guidance on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.  The report identified over 50 relevant documents recently published by development institutions, and found that many recommendations were being stated in common by almost all institutions.  The implicit consensus on the characteristics of nutrition-sensitive agriculture was made explicit in the Synthesis of Guiding Principles on Agriculture Programming for Nutrition (FAO 2013), which also benefited from substantive review and contributions by over 70 stakeholders,  in the form of relevant resources, comments, and verification of main conclusions.

A consultation with a broad range of partners (CSOs, NGOs, government staff, donors, UN agencies), in particular through the Ag2Nut Community of Practice, then honed the common messages into a concise set of recommendations (or guiding principles) that represent a broad consensus on how to improve nutrition through agriculture, based on the current global context.  These are the Key Recommendations referenced above.  Due to the highly collaborative process in their development, many stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, bilaterally funded projects (such as USAID's SPRING project), the UN SCN, and regional processes such as the CAADP, are currently using these recommendations or principles as a helpful way to review programs and policy, and to design nutrition-sensitive programs.