Re: Nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems

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

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