Re: Nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems

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

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