Show us the way!
It is great to hear so many stories of improved agriculture, improved strains, better seeds and biofortification. What concerns me is that we are not talking enough about the pathways from agriculture to better nutrition. It is not at all clear that increased productivity, greater income, improved quality or variety of food production necessarily result in improvements in diet and health. We need to know and show why and how this happens or does not happen.
There has been some mention in this forum discussion of promising avenues for converting greater availability into better dietary practice: for example behaviour change approaches, nutrition education, involving women, enabling people to make their own decisions and hands-on home-linked school education. We need to do much much more in these areas, and integrate it better with the food security initiatives it supplements and catalyses.
We also need to test what we do, making sure that these approaches get their own impact evaluation, quite distinct from agricultural/horticultural outputs and availability, so that we can show what mix of actions can best influence dietary change and make it last.
We are not alone. The major players in the fields of agriculture and nutrition have not yet sorted out the answers to the how question. What is very positive is that the challenge has been proclaimed, not least by this forum, and that we are beginning to try to meet it.
Jane Sherman, Nutrition Education Consultant, FAO, Rome