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01.07.2013 - 29.07.2013

Sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios que mejoran la nutrición

Como parte de los preparativos previos a la Segunda Conferencia Internacional sobre Nutrición (CIN2), se va a celebrar una Reunión Preparatoria Técnica en la sede central de la FAO del 13 al 15 de noviembre de 2013. Encontrará más información en: www.fao.org/ICN2.

Para contribuir y aportar información a esta reunión, se están realizando una serie de discusiones en línea sobre áreas temáticas seleccionadas. Este discusión en línea para el CIN2 denominada “Sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios que mejoran la nutrición” se basa en los debates anteriores del Foro FSN “Vincular agricultura, sistemas alimentarios y nutrición: ¿cuál es su punto de vista?” y "Hacer que la agricultura trabaje para la nutrición: Priorizar la acción, la investigación y el apoyo a nivel nacional". Se le invita a compartir evidencias e intercambiar opiniones sobre la forma de mejorar las políticas, programas e intervenciones para hacer que los sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios sean más sensibles a la nutrición. Se buscarán opciones de políticas y programas, así como acuerdos institucionales para mejorar la dieta y aumentar los niveles de nutrición, especialmente de los más pobres y vulnerables nutricionalmente, así como las formas de mejorar el seguimiento y evaluación de su impacto y rentabilidad.

Mejorar la nutrición debe comenzar con la alimentación y la agricultura. Esto se debe a que los pobres y los más vulnerables nutricionalmente dependen en gran medida de la agricultura para su subsistencia. A pesar de la importancia del papel de la agricultura para producir alimentos y generar ingresos, empleo y medios de vida, es el sistema alimentario en su conjunto -es decir el sector de postproducción más allá de la agricultura incluyendo procesado, almacenamiento, comercialización y consumo- el que en la actualidad contribuye significativamente más a la erradicación de la malnutrición.

“Mejorar la nutrición” son enfoques que abordan los determinantes subyacentes o las causas básicas de la malnutrición. Los sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios que mejoran la nutrición son los que efectiva y explícitamente incorporan objetivos, preocupaciones y consideraciones nutricionales, mejoran la dieta e incrementan los niveles de seguridad alimentaria y nutricional. Las actuaciones pueden incluir lograr que los alimentos más nutritivos sean más accesibles para todos o para grupos destinatarios específicos; apoyar a los pequeños agricultores e impulsar los ingresos de las mujeres, garantizando agua limpia y saneamiento, educación y empleo, salud, apoyo a la resiliencia y empoderamiento de las mujeres en un intento deliberado de mejorar de forma explícita las dietas y elevar los niveles de nutrición.

Los enfoques basados en la alimentación reconocen el papel central de la alimentación, la agricultura y la dieta en la mejora de la nutrición. Las estrategias basadas en la agricultura y los alimentos se centran en estos como principal herramienta para mejorar la calidad de la dieta y para abordar y prevenir la nutrición y las deficiencias nutricionales. El enfoque subraya los múltiples beneficios derivados de disfrutar de una alimentación variada, reconociendo su valor nutricional para una buena nutrición, así como la importancia y la significación social del sector agrícola y alimentario para apoyar los medios de vida rurales.

Son evidentes los múltiples beneficios sociales, económicos y de salud asociados con enfoques exitosos basados en la alimentación que conducen a la disponibilidad durante todo el año y al acceso y consumo de cantidades y variedades de alimentos nutricionalmente adecuados. Se promueve el bienestar nutricional y la salud de las personas, se apoya a los ingresos y los medios de subsistencia, y se crea y protege riqueza para la comunidad y a nivel nacional.

La vía causal desde el sistema alimentario a los resultados nutricionales puede ser directa - influenciada por la disponibilidad y accesibilidad de diversos alimentos nutritivos y con ello la capacidad de los consumidores para elegir una dieta sana, o indirecta -mediatizada por los ingresos, precios, conocimientos y otros factores-. Las intervenciones que tengan en cuenta y afecten a los sistemas de alimentación en su conjunto pueden potencialmente lograr resultados nutricionales más amplios que las acciones individuales no coordinadas.

Le invitamos a que comente los documentos de contexto y los materiales para el CIN2 disponibles para esta discusión (en inglés) también agradecemos sus comentarios sobre las comunicaciones de los expertos que se han preparado en respuesta al llamamiento de la FAO para expertos que están disponibles en este enlace (en inglés), así como sus respuestas a las siguientes preguntas:

  • Cuestiones de políticas: ¿Qué políticas pueden hacer que los sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios mejoren más la nutrición? ¿Cuáles son las brechas de conocimientos en las políticas asociadas con los sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios que mejoran la nutrición?
  • Cuestiones programáticas: ¿A qué se parecen los sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios que mejoran la nutrición? ¿Cuáles han sido las historias de éxito y las lecciones aprendidas de los programas a nivel de país? ¿Cómo podemos hacer el seguimiento del impacto de estos programas en el consumo de alimentos y la nutrición?
  • Asociaciones: ¿Cómo podemos trabajar en todos los sectores y construir vínculos fuertes entre la alimentación y la agricultura, la protección social, el empleo, la salud, la educación y otros sectores clave? ¿Cómo podemos crear asociaciones sostenibles? ¿Cómo podemos construir una gobernanza eficaz para la nutrición?

Al tiempo que le animamos a presentar comentarios sobre cualquiera o todos los apartados anteriores en cualquier etapa de la discusión, proponemos que el enfoque en la primera semana sea discutir la primera serie de preguntas.

El resultado de esta discusión en línea se utilizará para enriquecer los debates durante la reunión técnica preparatoria del 13 al 15 de noviembre de 2013, para luego pasar a ser utilizados en la reunión principal de alto nivel del CIN2 en 2014.

Le damos las gracias de antemano por su tiempo y por compartir sus conocimientos y experiencia con nosotros.  

Esperamos contar con sus contribuciones:

Los facilitadores:

Jody Harris, Analista superior de investigación, División de Pobreza, Salud y Nutrición, IFPRI.

Leslie Amoroso, Oficial de programas y miembro de la Secretaría del CIN2, FAO, Roma, Italia

Leer más sobre los facilitadores aquí

Esta discusión ha sido cerrada. Por favor, póngase en contacto con fsn-moderator@fao.org para cualquier información adicional.

Ishwar Babu Bairwa ISS, Ths Hague, Netherlands
25.07.2013
Ishwar Babu  Bairwa

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have been associated with this forum since 2010. It is my first contribution to forum. I am a agri-development professional and two years back I completed my second master from ISS, the hague, the Netherlands.  My contribution is based on my field experience in hot desert area, it is regarding enhancing nutrition for vulnerable community who live in harsh , horrible context in rural hot desert areas that lies in western Rajasthan of India. Lives and livelihood of these people are uncongenial since  average rainfall of this region is approximately 150 MM while average rainfall of India is 1200 MM. The ground water is almost not suitable drinking for human being as well as livestock as the water is highly saline. Likewise, temperature is an  extermly hot because there is no vegetation cover area in the rural and effect of climate changes. 

The source of perusing livelihood for disadvantaged people is  to grow millet and Moth (pulse crop) in rainy season and rearing livestock particularly Goat. In arid climatic zone where Goat and millet in crop has recommended by various research institution. Subsequently, most of women and children are anemic due to lack of  availability of nutritious food to the community. To provide nutritious food to women, children as well as men , there is an urgent need to develop a robust policy at national level and local level. Through this mail, I would suggest key course of action to mitigate malnutrition status in hot desert are as below:

1. Millet is main agriculture crop for the area. hence, central government and local government must plan to do more research on developing desert resistant varieties. Secondly , the research institute should develop nutritive varieties for existing main crops so that available food diet would be nutritious. 

2. National policy maker should keep in mind that there is  to get drinking water is a great concern for the community. In order to get irrigation water, domestic use of water  There is a key solution that is construction of Tanka   which must have capacity  of 60000 liter water. The water should only collected in natural rainy days at individual household level. Furthermore,  BAIF ( is a national NGO) has attempted and tested the model. BAIF's model is the WADI model, is successful model in desert area. WADI model comprises water tank (60,000 liter capacity), 100 fruit plants at their own infertile or fertile land, improved goat breed and kitchen garden vegetable crops. This model demonstrated that WADI model owner enable to get Rs. 40,000 per annum after 2-3 years of establishment of WADI.  Fresh fruit, vegetable and milk of goat availability leads to reduce malnutrition in hot desert rural region.

For more deatil of WADI model, you may click over - www.baif.org

I am looking for your acceptance and comments.

best regards

Ishwar  

23.07.2013
Ellen Anneliese Muehlhoff

Contribution by Ellen A. Muehlhoff and Ramani Wijesinha-Bettoni

Dear Moderators,

We would like to comment on the core paper “Challenges and issues in nutrition education” by Judiann McNulty (http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3234e/i3234e.pdf). These comments are also relevant to the question Partnerships: How can we work across sectors and build strong linkages between food and agriculture, social protection, employment, health, education and other key sectors?, and to the expert paper Case Study of Participatory Agriculture and Nutrition Program in Malawi by Rachel Bezner Kerr et al. (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/agn/pdf/FAO-expert-meeting-submission-Bezner-Kerr-et-al-ver4-2_FAO_comments_doc.pdf). The latter demonstrates the essential contribution of nutrition education to an agriculture-nutrition project in Malawi, which has successfully improved under-five nutritional status growth and household food security through the use of farmer-led participatory research, a transformational education approach, agroecological interventions and attention to gender inequality and other social inequalities at the household and community level.

Comment 1: re. The need for nutrition education (Chapter 2 of McNulty paper)

The increasing recognition that nutrition education is essential for enhancing agriculture's impact on nutrition is highlighted in this chapter, which summarizes the conclusions of recent review studies that examine the effectiveness of nutrition-enhancing food and nutrition security actions. Many such reviews conclude that nutrition education is an essential component for success. Two of the reviews mentioned in this chapter are the Sixth Report on the World Nutrition Situation (UNSCN, 2010), which concluded that “for all populations, [nutrition] education and social marketing are crucial components of national, municipal and community efforts for sustained improvements in food and nutrition security. These activities are often essential to realizing the potential for nutrition improvement of many agricultural development projects and programmes. They are also important in countries where obesity and NCDs are increasing.”  The 2011 IFPRI-sponsored conference “Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition”, Ecker et al. (2012) conclude that “addressing the causes of micronutrient malnutrition inevitably requires programs that support dietary diversification by providing education on nutritious, balanced diets. Without this understanding, the nutritional impact of programs that increase people’s economic access to improved nutrition will be strictly limited.

A few other studies that are not explicitly mentioned in the Chapter (perhaps due to lack of space) and could have been worth citing are the following:

  • Girard et al (2011): concluded that agricultural strategies improve intakes of micronutrient-rich foods by women and young children when nutrition education, gender and nutrition objectives were explicitly stated.
  • Reviews by Leroy and Frongillo (2007), Berti et al (2003) and Ruel (2001) stress the important role played by both gender considerations and communication and nutrition education activities involving behaviour change in homestead gardening interventions that succeeded in improving diets, nutrient intakes and/or child nutritional status. For example, Ruel (2001) states “A key to success appears to be the inclusion of a strong nutrition education and behavior change intervention. For example, strategies to promote increased production of micronutrient-rich foods are more effective when combined with a nutrition education intervention, which ensures that increased household food supply and income translates into improved dietary quality.”
  • The World Bank (2007) review is mentioned, but we would add that it specifically states the following: “Agricultural interventions that include a nutrition education component will increase the likelihood of positive nutritional outcomes. Those who are armed with information and knowledge about the nutritional significance of the foods they produce and eat are able to make better production and consumption decisions

To the above, we would add that the need for nutrition education has also been strongly reinforced by the concept of the Right to Food. Parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are under an obligation to provide information and education on good diet, food safety, food-borne diseases, food labelling and processing, production and preparation; while in the school curriculum integrating agriculture, food safety, environment, nutrition and health education builds citizens’ capacity to achieve and maintain their own food security. Hence nutrition education is an essential vehicle for establishing food rights (Refs 5 and 6 below).

 

Comment 2: re. Professional capacity [in nutrition education] (Chapter 6 of McNulty paper)

The main issues facing capacity development in nutrition education are given are:
•       Do governments have the interest, commitment and resources to support professional development in nutrition education?
•       Will there be sufficient employment opportunities, particularly in the public sector, to attract people into a career as nutrition educators?
•       Where will academic institutions and other programs find expertise in-country to teach nutrition education or develop training materials for in-service training?

Re. the 3rd issue, we would like to mention that the FAO ENACT project, funded by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, (the ENACT project is referred to earlier in the chapter) will be helping to fill this gap, at least in six African countries for the time being. Tutors (who are nutrition lecturers/professors at university, a few of whom are already nutrition educators), will receive on-the-job training during the piloting. They have already received training on using the materials and methodology at a pre-piloting workshop held in Uganda in April this year, while piloting students who successfully complete the course will themselves be able to carry out nutrition education. A minimum of 60 students will be trained in the piloting phase alone. Training materials for in-service training is also included in the ENACT project, where a training-of-trainers course named the EAT course, which covers the processes of formative enquiry (E), Adaptation (A) and tutor training (T), is being developed. The challenge remains to find a suitable regional partner for hosting the EAT course, in order to ensure its sustainability.

Some news for the forum: Piloting of the ENACT module is nearing completion in Makerere University Uganda, the first of the partners to pilot the material. The feedback received from students thus far via the Facebook page they have set up has been very positive and enthusiastic.. For example, one of the students posted: “The ENACT units are very interesting, I have actually realized the need for intensive nutrition education, the cultural practices. Gender factors, ignorance…etc. are actually in existence, we’ve done the outside activities and this is REAL. Nutrition education is a very important strategy to address most of these issues.” We would encourage all those interested in nutrition education to visit their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NutritionEducationStudentsAfricaNesa) and make a posting!

 

Best regards,
Ellen Muehlhoff (Senior Officer/Group Leader
Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group
Nutrition Division, FAO

&

Ramani Wijesinha-Bettoni (Consultant, FAO), on behalf of the FAO ENACT Team

 

References:

  1. Berti P, Krasevec J, Fitzgerald S (2003) A review of the effectiveness of agricultural interventions in improving nutrition outcomes. Public Health Nutrition 7: 599-609
  2. Ecker O, Breisinger C, Pauw K. 2012. Growth Is Good, but Is Not Enough to Improve Nutrition. In: Fan S and Pandya-Lorch R, editors. Reshaping Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. Available at:  www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/oc69.pdf
  3. Girard AW, Self JL, McAuliffe C, Olude O. 2012. The Effects of Household Food Production Strategies on the Health and Nutrition Outcomes of Women and Young Children: A Systematic Review. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 26, Suppl 1:205-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2012.01282.x.Suppl.1, 205-222.
  4. Leroy, J.L. and Frongillo, E.A. (2007) Can interventions to promote animal production ameliorate undernutrition? Journal of Nutrition 137, 2311–2316.
  5. Ruel MT (2001) Can Food-Based Strategies Help Reduce Vitamin A and Iron Deficiencies? A Review of Recent Evidence. Washington DC: IFPRI.
  6. Right to Food Brief No. 6. Education and awareness-raising. Available at http://www.fao.org/righttofood/kc/downloads/briefs/en/6/03.htm
  7. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 12: The Right to Adequate Food (Art. 11 of the Covenant), 12 May 1999, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4538838c11.html
  8. UNSCN. 2010. Progress in Nutrition: 6th Report on the World Nutrition Situation. Geneva: United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition.
  9. World Bank 2007: From Agriculture to Nutrition: Pathways, Synergies and Outcomes. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World BankAvailable at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/825826-1111134598204/21608903/January2008Final.pdf

 

Janice Meerman FAO , Italy
22.07.2013

Dear all,

The moderators ask: What policies can make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-enhancing?

In response, I would like to pose another, more nuanced question: What incentives can be created for formulating such policies in the first place, not to mention then moving them forward from rhetoric to reality?

Despite the recent explosion in research and writing regarding nutrition sensitive agriculture, this issue remains largely undiscussed. Lawrence Haddad sums up the situation in a pithy blog post written late last year titled: What do we want? Nutrition sensitive agriculture! How do we incentivize it? No clue.

Haddad comments: “It is important to know what to tell policymakers when they ask "what can I do?" But I would argue it is more important to (1) know how to get more of them asking the question in the first place and then (2) understand the incentives and barriers to getting any subsequent policies implemented across sectors.”

Recent work on enabling environments may help shed light on the 1st question (e.g. the 2013 Lancet Nutrition Series, articles 4). Moreover as global momentum for nutrition sensitive agriculture increases, opportunities for taking action at country level are growing. CAADP’s Nutrition Capacity Development Initiative, facilitated by FAO and hosted by NEPAD and the AU Commission, provides a current example.

Question 2 may prove even tougher to answer than question 1. Unlike nutrition, the incentives that drive food and agriculture systems are primarily profit-oriented.  As such, nutrition sensitive agriculture initiatives will succeed best when their outcomes are framed as compatible with market signals reflecting the behavior of producers, wholesalers and other members of the agricultural value chain. To do this, advocates for nutrition enhancing agriculture must work harder on preaching outside the choir regarding win-wins which provide economically compatible nutrition sensitive incentives to stakeholders in agriculture. By definition, these “win wins” are already considered important inputs for nutrition sensitive agriculture and hold value for the sector more generally. For example:

  • Agricultural research and other production-related productivity improvements: These reduce the unit-costs of production which, in turn, cause incomes of farmers to increase and food prices to decrease, both of which have positive nutrition and economic growth effects. The Green Revolution is a case in point. Farmer incomes increased while wheat and rice prices dropped significantly.
     
  • Labor saving technological change: Changes in food production technology that reduce demands on women’s time have been shown to improve nutrition by increasing  time available for child care, food preparation, accessing clean drinking water, etc. They also improve the well-being of women.  In turn, labor saving technological change in activities traditionally performed by women outside the food production system leaves more time available for food system activities. These include food production per se, but also better and more food processing as well as increased income generation through formal and informal food-system based employment.
  •  
  • Crop diversification: Efforts to increase diversity in food production result in lower production risks and better nutrition. Crop diversification also contributes to ecosystem health, and in some cases is good business as demand for both horticulture and animal source foods is rising.

Each of these examples demonstrates how the addition of nutrition sensitivity as a policy goal need not reduce economic efficiency.  However, it is also important for advocates to admit that in some cases win-wins are not possible. In these situations one approach is to argue that while trade-offs may come at the expense of lower economic growth, they are likely to be highly compatible with pro-poor development goals such as empowerment, gender equality and social welfare. These human development goals are now cited routinely in much of the discourse on economic growth as well as included in national development, agricultural, and rural development plans. As such, if advocates play their cards right, a political incentive can be created in situations where an economic one cannot.

This contribution draws on “Overview of Nutrition Sensitive Food Systems: Policy Options and Knowledge Gaps”. The latter was prepared by the author of this post,  based on material provided by Per Pinstrup-Andersen for this online forum and the  ICN2 Technical Preparatory Meeting on nutrition enhancing agriculture to be held in November 2013.

 

Dr. Richard Cottrell World Sugar Research Organisation, United Kingdom
19.07.2013
Richard

Nutrition–enhancing agriculture and food systems

Contribution to FAO on-line discussion forum from

World Sugar Research Organisation

 

WSRO is a not-for-profit scientific research and information organization transparently funded by the sugar industry. WSRO is committed to upholding the fundamental principles of science and to relying solely on objective science in its programmes.

The nature of sound science is to promote or challenge hypotheses with evidence.  An unsatisfactory hypothesis is one that does not reflect the evidence, and thus should be questioned, and ultimately discarded, as unhelpful and misleading. As a scientific organization, WSRO is rightly involved with the testing of hypotheses, whatever their origin.

For more information: www.wsro.org

The following comments are offered as a contribution to the discussions and do not necessarily represent the position of WSRO or its members.

Background

The current discussion on the links between agriculture and nutrition has produced a number of different themes and emphases.

It is difficult to address undernutrition, malnutrition and overnutrition when they occur in isolation, let alone in combination.  This is especially true, since the causes of obesity and malnutrition are widely acknowledged to be multifactorial in nature.  A reduction in the intake of sugars and nutritively-sweetened beverages has been frequently referred to in attempts to address obesity (see a number of the background papers to this discussion).  However, one of the expert papers in this discussion (Nicklas and O’Neil) seriously questions the evidence behind policies which specifically target one food, food group or nutrient.  The FAO approach to nutrition sensitive development promotes ‘interventions that promote dietary diversity’, ‘enjoying a variety of foods’ and for ‘people to consider their total diet’ (see background paper by Thompson and Amoroso) - an approach which has been endorsed elsewhere (Nicklas and O’Neil, 2013; Freeland-Graves and Nitze, 2013). A moderate intake of sugar, within the context of a balanced and varied diet, with adequate physical activity, is in keeping with such an approach, encouraging consumption of certain foods (e.g. cereals, sharp tasting fruits etc.), improving diet diversity and helping to meet micronutrient requirements.  Sugar also functions in providing texture, colour, flavour and acts as a natural preservative and substrate for fermentation.   

In the light of this discussion, it is also worth mentioning the contributions that sugar can make to addressing food security and nutritional adequacy which are frequently overlooked.  In this context, sugar production, and beet and cane cultivation, is vital to economic growth in many countries, contributing on a large scale to rural development, industrial and agricultural employment, and support of the rural population. Sugar may also play a role in attempting to ensure adequate energy and can act as a vehicle for micronutrients which may be subject to deficiency in developing countries. 

1.    The agriculture and often the whole economy of many developing countries may depend on one or a few commodities destined principally for export, including sugar.  In 2011, raw sugar was produced in approximately 120 countries.  Many of these countries are in the developing world, where sugar production remains a key contributor to growth of the rural economy.

 

Sources: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3107e/i3107e03.pdf); ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/004/y3557e/y3557e.pdf

 

The case of India

·         Around 5 million hectares of land are under sugarcane cultivation in India.

·         Sugarcane is grown by 6 million cane farmers.  These farmers, their familial dependents, and labourers (~half a million skilled and unskilled workers) are dependent directly and indirectly on this agricultural crop.

·         Prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth.  25% of the world’s undernourished population are located in India.

·         Sugar is valued as an inexpensive source of energy and has been distributed to the low income families at a subsidized price through the public distribution system.

·          Almost half of the sugar mills in India (~230) are cooperatives, many providing additional infrastructure to the industry such as education and healthcare.

 

2.    Sugar can help to combat micronutrient deficiency and is an essential ingredient in oral rehydration solutions (ORS).   Post-harvest fortification of foods has been successfully employed in addressing micronutrient deficiency, but requires a relatively developed food processing industry for successful implementation. Sugar has been successfully fortified with vitamin A and iron, and has been cited in FAO documents as an alternative vehicle for iodization.  Currently, sugar plays a significant role in fortification in Central and Latin American countries as well as in Africa.  In the developed world, many sugar-containing foods are important sources of micronutrients (e.g. fortified cereals and dairy products).  In addition, the use of sugars and glucose together with salt, are used in oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration and in the treatment of acute diarrhoea.

 

Sources: http://www.fao.org/docrep/w2840e/w2840e03.htm; http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/fch_cah_06_1/en/

 

The case of Zambia

·         Sugar for domestic consumption in Zambian has been mandatorily fortified with vitamin A since 1998. At least 50% of the Zambian population has regular access to fortified sugar (NFNC, 2007, 2008).

Source: http://www.nfnc.org.zm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=110:sugar-fortification-&catid=57:micronutrient-control-programmes&Itemid=95

 

3.    Sugarcane and sugarbeet crops are sustainable agricultural crops.  There is general agreement that food production systems need to become more sustainable, in order to improve food security in the long term and alleviate pressures on production arising from population and income growth.  However, there is little agreement on how this should be achieved (FAO Conference 2013; Tilman et al. 2002), in particular, how to incorporate nutritional objectives within a broader framework of sustainability and biodiversity (Lang 2010).

 

In this context, sugarcane has an extraordinary capacity for growth; its cultivation can be undertaken with the minimum consumption of chemical products and therefore be highly compatible with the environment and soil conservation. Sugar beet is an important break crop which increases biodiversity and provides direct benefits to agricultural land. Growing beet and adding co-products from beet processing lead to improved soil conservation, enhanced fertility and reduced soil compaction. Process energy optimisation and agricultural yield increases have provided additional benefits in reducing greenhouse emissions and increasing land efficiency.

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/x4988e/x4988e01.htm

http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/x4988e/x4988e00.htm

http://www.comitesucre.org/userfiles/The%20EU%20Beet%20and%20Sugar%20Sector%20A%20Model%20of%20Environmental%20Sustainability%20_FINAL.pdf

 

Conclusions

While short term approaches are needed in order to reduce the number of people currently suffering dietary shortages of macronutrients or micronutrients, some long term sustainable solutions should also be initiated to meet the greater need for staple foods anticipated in the future. Causes of both under and over nutrition are multifactorial and may be best addressed with an understanding of the local issues.  A ‘one-size fits all’ solution may help in addressing some issues, but not others

Additional references not supplied within the text

 

FAO (2013) The state of food and agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization Rome.

FAO Conference paper C 2013/2 Add.1 (2013). Food and Agriculture Organization Rome.

Freeland-Graves JH, Nitzke S (2012) Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: total diet approach to healthy eating. J Acad Nutr Diet 113:307-317

Lang T (2010) in “Sustainable diets and biodiversity: directions and solutions for policy, research and action”. Proceedings of an international symposium “Biodiveristy and sustainable diets united against hunger” 3–5 November 2010

Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.

Nicklas TA, O’Neil CE (2013) Prevalence of Obesity: A public health problem poorly understood.  Expert paper produced for the ICN2. (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/agn/pdf/PrevalenceofObesity_FIN...)

Tilman D, Kassman KG, Matson PA et al. (2002) Agriculture sustainability and intensive production practices. Nature 418:671-677.

Thompson B, Amoroso L (2011) FAO’s Approach to Nutrition-Sensitive Agricultural Development. (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/agn/pdf/FAO_Approach_to_Nutriti...)

Ms. Cristina Grandi IFOAM, Italy
19.07.2013
Cristina

Dear all,

I would like to contribute to this interesting discussion referring the article “Health for acre: meeting the nutrition challenge through organic farming” , written by Dr. Vaibhav Singh and published by the Bija magazine (pag. 6) http://www.navdanya.org/attachments/bija58_27-5-2011[1].pdf

The article states that since providing nutrition and nourishment are the main aims of agriculture, nutrition per acre is a more accurate measure of productivity than yield of a commodity in a monoculture.

Dr. Singh worked with the data of the 12 studies in India to assess the nutritive value per acre of farmland. These studies show that organic mixed cropping produces more nutrition per acre farmland than conventional monocropping, and that the overall profitability in mixed cropping is higher than in mono-cropping.

According with research organic mixed cropping, on an average,  produce more proteins (providing all the essential amino acids) , as well as, vitamins, minerals and micronutrients than those produced by conventional mono cropping.

Cristina Grandi
IFOAM Food Security Campaigner

Leslie Amoroso Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
18.07.2013
Leslie

Feedback by Jody Harris and Leslie Amoroso, facilitators

Dear all,

Many thanks indeed for all of your contributions so far. In this post, we hope to summarize some common themes and key ideas that have emerged from the discussion up to now, and also to focus the dialogue around the core background and expert papers, which represent some of the most current thinking in our topic area. We would like to remind you that the outcome of this online discussion will be used to enrich the discussions at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Preparatory Technical Meeting on 13-15 November 2013 and thereby feed into and inform the main high-level ICN2 event in 2014.

Emerging themes

Within our core interest areas of policies, programmes and partnerships, contributions have focused on solutions encompassing the behavioral (such as the role of marketing and demand creation); the technical (such as fertilizer or fortification initiatives, and food safety); and the institutional (such as centralized procurements, harmonization between ministries, or development of capacity). We have already commented on the diversity of views and perspectives from different fields, reflecting the variety of options for nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems. This diversity is both the opportunity and the challenge of the agriculture-food systems-nutrition field; there is so much that can be done, but so much that needs to be done!

Key ideas

There have been several recurring ideas running through the contributions so far. A key idea is certainly diversification- of the diet, of agricultural production, and within ecosystems supporting agriculture- and this is echoed in much of the background and expert literature for this online discussion. Sustainability, and the scale of agriculture, has been mentioned in various posts; some see smallholder agriculture as the only way to ensure food and nutrition security in an environment of volatile markets, while others commented on the role of market links in making programmes scalable and sustainable. A key idea that has come out of contributions so far is that of the continuum of nutrition from under- to over-nutrition, as well as micronutrient deficiencies, and the importance of considering the consequences at both ends of this continuum of the rapid changes happening in our food systems. Finally, the important question of whether the impact of nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems interventions should be measured using anthropometry indicators or other relevant intermediate outcomes along the impact pathway, such as diets, was raised.

Next steps

The themes and ideas above are important and are reflected in the background and expert literature for this online discussion; they remain some of the most important issues within the field of nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems, and we would welcome your views on the contributions. Again, we encourage you to read one or more of the core background and expert materials (those which reflect your own interests), and consider these when responding to the three sets of questions on policy, programmes and partnerships.

Many thanks indeed for sharing your thoughts and views,

Jody and Leslie

Dr. Terri Ballard FAO, Italy
17.07.2013
Terri

There has been a lot of discussion on-line and in workshops over the past few years about appropriate metrics for measuring the impact of nutrition-enhancing agriculture on nutrition.  Two recent systematic reviews have concluded that the evidence is not yet available to say that agricultural interventions reduce child malnutrition, and that better methodology is needed, including the use of randomized controlled trials ( Ruel MT, Alderman H and the Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition? Lancet 2013. published online June 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60843-0.)

In my opinion, if we continue to expect individual agricultural projects of often limited coverage and short life spans to evaluate their impact on reducing child malnutrition, we will never understand the true contribution of agriculture towards improving nutrition overall, and will still be searching for convincing evidence that these approaches are better than the “magic bullet” medical approaches to malnutrition. 

I would like to suggest that we are looking at the wrong set of impact indicators. By focusing on reduction in child malnutrition through the use of anthropometric measurement, we are setting ourselves up for failure.  As stated by Per Pinstrup-Anderson in his comment published in the recent Lancet Series, pathways through which food systems can affect nutrition are well known (Per Pinstrup-Anderson. Nutrition-sensitive food systems: from rhetoric to action. Lancet 2013. published online June 6. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61053-3).  While these pathways, such as homestead production, livelihood enhancement, women’s empowerment, improved market access of healthy foods, infrastructure, etc., can have a considerable impact on nutrition, it is not appropriate to hold agriculture-nutrition interventions accountable for reducing stunting or other multi-causal nutrition outcomes. A better way may be to  measure the contribution that different interventions make at different points along the food system on improving diets and reducing nutritional problems.  This is done through the selection of appropriate outcome indicators that are relevant to the projects being evaluated and then putting the evidence together in a way that focuses on the larger picture – improvement of nutrition of the population.  

There is a vast literature on large scale effectiveness evaluations in the health field that could serve as a model for understanding how and how much nutrition-enhancing agriculture achieves towards improving nutrition. (Bryce J, Victora CG; Ten methodological lessons from the multi-country evaluation of integrated Management of Childhood Illness. Health Policy Plan. 2005 Dec;20 Suppl 1:i94-i105. Victora CG, Black RE, Boerma JT, Bryce J. Measuring impact in the Millennium Development Goal era and beyond: a new approach to large-scale effectiveness evaluations. Lancet 2011; 377: 85-95.) 

Tobias Lasner and Gesine Behrens Thünen-Institut für Seefischerei - AG ...
17.07.2013

Dear all,

thank you for your invitation to take part in the discussion.  Please, have in mind that aquaculture is one of the most important food production systems in our times.

While the global demand of fish increases, the fish supply from fisheries stagnates. Since the 1970s global aquaculture production is growing and today it is a fundamental part of the supply of fish to the world´s population. However, an increase of the aquaculture production is often accompanied by environmental problems based on current production methods: sedimentation, change in bio-geochemistry, pathogen trans­mission, inter-breeding with wild organisms, introduction of alien species, and indirect ecosystem pressures such as high energy costs are critical points of current aquaculture production methods. The intensification of aquaculture in recent decades has led to increased interference in ecosystems and a greater need for resources such as energy and food. So today aquaculture faces great challenges to meet the global demand for aquatic products in the future while minimizing the environmental impact. One possibility to overcome these challenges can be seen in an ecological modernization of the aquaculture sector. In consequence, it’s important to develop concepts for an environmentally, economically and social sustainable aquaculture development. 

Kind regards

Gesine Behrens
Thünen-Institut für Seefischerei - AG Fischereiökonomie
Palmaille 9
22767 Hamburg (Germany)

www.ti.bund.de

Fannie de Boer Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands
17.07.2013
Fannie de Boer

The Centre for Development Innovation Wageningen UR is pleased to announce the organisation of the International Course on Agriculture Nutrition Linkages, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 18 - 29 November 2013. This urgent topic should definitely be addressed to battle malnutrition. We hope you will share the announcement below with your members on your website. In case of any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Fannie de Boer MPH; MHE
Sr. Nutritionist/Course Director Training programme Food and Nutrition Security
Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR

New International Course on Agriculture Nutrition Linkages

The Centre for Development Innovation Wageningen UR is pleased to announce the organisation of the International Course on Agriculture Nutrition Linkages, to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 18 - 29 November 2013.

Malnutrition occurring early in life has life-long negative impacts on productivity and the income generating potential of the population. For longer times, malnutrition, although seen as a multi-sectorial issue, has been mainly addressed from the health sectors. Since recently, increased attention arises for ‘nutrition-sensitive’ approaches including nutrition sensitive agriculture. Linking  the disciplinary fields of agriculture and nutrition is a promising new field for enhanced efforts to combatting malnutrition.

As a participant in this course you will gain increased insights into how the fields of agriculture, agricultural development, food production and food security can contribute to reduced malnutrition in population groups. The course will provide practical tools to increase the nutritional benefits of agricultural programmes and to reduce their potential negative impacts on nutrition. The course has a clear agricultural economic approach and addresses agricultural development along food value chains.

Do you feel you lack skills and knowledge on linking  agriculture and nutrition? Consult the website<http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/show/CDIcourse_Agriculture_nutrition_linkages.htm> of the Centre for Development Innovation for more information about the application procedure and costs. Please forward this email to other parties who might be interested in the course.

 

Prof. Gerhard Flachowsky Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Germany
17.07.2013
Gerhard

Dear Colleagues,

Your discussion about "Nutrition-enhanced agriculture and food systems" is very lively and the moderators should be happy about such a resonance and interesting inputs. On the other side, it is nearly impossible to follow all discussion and to read all background papers for the online discussion. I agree that the problems of smallholders, the situation of women/children and to overcome hunger, malnutrition and deficiencies in amino acids, minerals and vitamins and consequently health and education have the highest priority presently.

But for my impression, some clear strategy for a long term and sustainable overcoming of the present situation is missing. For example, I miss some important subjects/topics (also political actions) with possible consequences for a sustainable nutrition in developing countries, such as:

  • Balance between People (Nutrition; Sociology etc) – Planet (Resources, Environment etc) and Profit (so-called 3P-concept) for global food security. At the moment, the system seems to be globally (not only in developing countries) imbalanced in the direction to make Profit at the costs of People and the Planet. It seems to be difficult to guarantee a sustainable food security under such conditions.
  • What are the consequences of so-called “Free Trade Regions” for local food producer in developing countries and global food security under consideration of the 3P-concept?
  • How do you assess the so-called land grabbing (pieces of sirloin are taken by other countries or foreign companies for a certain time or for ever) and its long-term consequences for sustainable food security in some developing countries (also under consideration of the 3P-concept)?
  • Plant breeding, also under consideration of present situation (e.g. growing population; limited non-renewable resources such as arable land, water, fuel, some minerals; possible climate changes) is the starting point for the whole food chain (base for animal and human nutrition). Therefore, we need a long term programme of plant breeding for a sustainable food and feed production to meet the increased demand for growing population. The programme should be supported by public organisation, possibly by public-private partnerships. Maybe the FAO could take the leadership for such a programme, supported by other organisations (incl. NGOs).

In consequence, a strategy with short, middle and long term objectives for “Nutrition-enhanced agriculture and food systems” should be developed. I allow me to mention some objectives of such a programme:

  1. Short term (5 – 10 years):

Development of a sustainable agriculture (education, support of smallholders etc.)

Overcome of water and food energy/nutrient deficiencies in developing countries

Improvement of situation of smallholders and women/children in developing countries

Stop of land grabbing

Minimize of possible disadvantages of global trade and “Free Trade Regions” for development of agriculture in developing countries

Improvement of the balance between People-Planet and Profit

  1. Middle term (10 – 20 years):

Further conversion of short term objectives

Improvement of sustainability and efficiency of food production

  1. Long term (20 – 50 years):

Conversion of concepts of plant breeding (plants with high and stable yields, resistant against biotic and abiotic stressors, low need for non renewable resources - water, arable land, fuel etc. -, better utilization of unlimited resources - such as sunlight/energy, N2; CO2, genetic pool etc.- )

Stabilisation of the short and middle term objectives

Best regards and much success in improving of nutrition

Gerhard Flachowsky

Prof. Dr. G. Flachowsky
Visiting Senior Scientist
Institute of Animal Nutrition
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI)
Federal Research Institute for Animal Health
Bundesallee 50
38116 Braunschweig

Germany