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Re: The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition

UGAgri Group7 University of Guyana, Guyana
27.09.2013
UGAgri

Just reading though the contributions on this discussion boggles our minds in the range of ideas and opinions that have arisen from commentators across the world. And, we are grateful for the dimensions they have added to our thinking since the group’s last post two weeks ago.

 The facilitators mentioned, “If we consider food and nutrition insecurity essentially as a problem of poverty, the strategy to counter this insecurity needs to be founded on inclusive broad- based development and sustainable economic growth.” Taken at a first glance, it is relatively easy to reconcile this with the teachings of free-enterprise economics in which the implicit story is that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” Then, the contribution of the private sector to nutrition seems intuitive and the idea that we need to host a global dialogue to state the obvious seems a bit perplexing. It is especially at odds with the facilitators’ comment that “Farmers, farmers’ associations and farmers’ cooperatives are key to feeding the world,” because these associations are quite different from the mainstream abstract of the “private sector” and so, had seemed to be part of a different discussion.

That discussion is one on rural development, the use of common resources and food sovereignty. What this means to us is that development must be facilitated in rural communities where the most vulnerable to malnutrition and nutrition-related diseases are concentrated. This specifically means infrastructural support- including regular access to potable water and a stable supply of energy- and policies-- like registering land and securing property rights for farmers--that protect these vulnerable communities from land-grabbing among other opportunistic consequences of corruption and wider political instability in the agri. sector. Oxfam’s 2012 report, ‘Our Land, Our Lives’, mirrors this concept of smallholder farmers being the centre of agricultural development that will then allow them to control their own livelihoods and nutrition.

UGAgri Group 7