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Re: Nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems

Dr. Anna Herforth Independent consultant, United States of America

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: )

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.