Re: Nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems

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

Closing note by Jody Harris and Leslie Amoroso, facilitators

Dear all,

Thank you very much to all who participated in this fascinating, rich and lively exchange.  We are grateful to those who contributed in writing, as well as to those who read and reflected on the contributions of others. The discussion covered important topics related to “nutrition-enhancing agriculture and food systems”, and significant knowledge, ideas, views and experiences were shared from many parts of the world, and from several different fields, sectors and professions. Comments on the core background and expert papers as well as on the key three questions (policy, programmes and partnerships) were received and will be synthesized into a final document. The outcome of this exchange will be used to enrich the discussions at the ICN2 Preparatory Technical Meeting from  13 to 15 November 2013 and thereby feed into and inform the  ICN2 itself which will be held at FAO headquarters from 19 to 21 November 2014.

Emerging themes and key ideas from the most recent posts (from 19 to 29 July) are summarized below; those from previous posts were summarized by the facilitators on July 18th, and can be seen on the online discussion pages.

The need to balance short-term measures to tackle malnutrition with those aimed at achieving long-term impact was raised by participants, along with the key role nutrition-enhancing agriculture has in addressing food and nutrition security of populations affected by protracted crises, and in strengthening the resilience to shocks. Several contributors highlighted Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the continuum of under-to over-nutrition in their posts, urging us not to focus too narrowly on one part of the equation.  The need to use evidence-based science for effective nutrition policy was recognized, and yet the lack of relevant evidence, is cited as a challenge, as is strengthening inter-sectoral coordination at different levels. In terms of getting programmes and policies enacted, the issues of incentives for effective implementation and of capacity development (human and institutional) were mentioned from various angles. The importance of preserving the environment, as a basis for environmentally sustainable agricultural production, was stressed, as was the need to think about post-harvest and food safety issues along the value chain. Finally, the theme of diversification both of diets and of agriculture was maintained, as was the importance of nutrition education and gender issues. Common ground may be identified between those proposing smallholder agriculture as a sustainable solution, and those proposing more private sector involvement in markets. A rich and varied set of issues, and some important experiences and contributions on each!

We again thank you for your time and for sharing your views and experiences with us, and look forward to continuing the dialogue at ICN2 and beyond...

Jody and Leslie