This member participated in the following discussions
I would like to follow up to Ellen’s post regarding the study on Bangladesh.
Social protection programs, if designed and implemented properly, can have significant impacts on food and nutrition security, agricultural productivity and rural development. Synergy between agriculture and social protection is considered necessary for reducing rural poverty and vulnerability.
As mentioned in the Bangladesh case, the Transfer Modality Research Initiative (TMRI), a joint effort between WFP, IFPRI and the Government of Bangladesh, showed that all social transfers’ modalities (food and cash) caused meaningful improvements in nearly all measures of consumption (i.e. expenditure on food and nonfood consumption, calorie intake, and diet quality). However, inclusion of nutrition behavior change communication (BCC) along with the transfers determined considerably larger improvements than transfer alone. In particular, cash transfers + nutrition BCC had a larger impact on diet quality (in terms of food consumption score) and was the only modality to significantly reduce child stunting. Moreover, nutrition BCC also had a positive impact on women empowerment and social status.
These outcomes provide useful lessons for policy attention and information on how to make the best use of social protection programmes to improve nutrition. The "Monitoring Report 2015 of the National Food Policy Plan of Action and the Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition" considered the results of the study particularly relevant for the implementation of the recent National Social Protection Strategy and recommended to use them to identify the types of social protection interventions to be implemented at country level.
I trust the meeting in Moscow will help in drawing up further evidence on the best social protection programmes and implementation modalities to improve food security and nutrition of the vulnerable populations for whom it is most intended.
Lalita Bhattacharjee, PhD
Nutritionist and Officer in Charge, Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge –MUCH
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Effects of climate change are exacerbated by frequent natural disasters, salinity intrusion and land degradation, low productivity of land, tradition agricultural practices, low availability of food items and poor income level of population in the southern districts of Bangladesh. Lack of dietary diversity is a severe problem in the population of this region, which results in micronutrient deficiencies and contributes to the burden of widespread malnutrition. Ongoing projects in the South of Bangladesh have illustrated some coping mechanisms and traditional technologies that contribute to production diversity in the rural home gardens. A tenth of gardens surveyed in Shyamnagar Union in Sathkira district were destroyed completely by soil salinity, and seeds could not germinate; around 38% showed high levels of soil salinity and 34% moderate soil salinity. However, 50% of households implemented coping practices – 38% used organic compost and 34% planted crops in pits leached with water. Mulching with rice straw, coconut coir and other locally available organic materials were used to increase water retention of the soil and develop compost. Greater resilience was found in salinity among vegetable crops which include Indian spinach (pui shak), sweet gourd, okra and kang kong (kolmi shak) which are good sources of micronutrients (beta carotene, folic acid and calcium) and dietary fibre. Kang kong is noted to be the most saline resistant crop but is relatively new to Southern Bangladesh. Small farmers reported that production of rice, an important cash crop and source of food had decreased since the 2012 storms. Households with larger plots of land were noted to be moving from rice cultivation to shrimp cultivation which affected the day labour opportunities for poor households. Households with better knowledge and means to adopt salinity coping practices were among the better off ones. Climate change coping strategies and input resources including livelihood support need to be increasingly integrated into agriculture extension for promoting integrated home gardening for better diets and nutrition, particularly in flood affected areas.
Lalita Bhattacharjee, PhD
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Homestead production or family farming is the primary source of energy and nutrients for subsistence households. Family farming also plays a role in biodiversity conservation, and can contribute to household income generation. Taking the example of rural Bangladesh, 75% of households reportedly have a home garden. Estimates show that a range of 25 fruit crops, 29 vegetables, and 12 spices can be cultivated, even in small home gardens of less than 50 square-metres. Usually controlled by women, income from home gardens is more likely to directly benefit women and children through education, health care and other spending.
However, in community contexts that face risks and challenges of land decline, increasing soil salinity and water logging as in the South of Bangladesh, home gardening needs to include enhanced resilience to land degradation, water scarcity, biosecurity (especially avian flu), and climate change. Integrated household farming interventions need to be adapted to sustainably contribute to improve dietary diversity and nutritional status and income, especially of subsistence and small women farmers.
From a futuristic perspective, there is for strengthening agriculture and nutrition entry points with a view to linking communities, women and young farmers to agricultural extension, nutrition behavior change and income generation resources. Agricultural intervention programmes should include explicit objectives of improving nutritional status with a focus on addressing child under nutrition.
- Resources and training support for extensive homestead gardening, fish, poultry and cattle farming which address access issues to nutritious local foods, need to be encouraged to ensure an adequate supply of protein and micronutrient rich foods (small livestock, fish, beans, leafy and yellow- orange vegetables and fruits among others). Training on agricultural practices and ensuring high-yielding variety seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and machinery at reasonable price could be helpful for this purpose.
- An emphasis on community based approaches providing better access to seeds, tools and materials; training of women farmers/households/agricultural extension workers on appropriate food preparation, food processing for nutrition, use of appropriate technologies, promotion of nutrition and health education and strengthening public private sector collaboration for value addition and income should be particularly implemented.
- Child stunting can addressed through building strengthened linkages between complementary feeding requirements/practices and agricultural production. The most sustainable, cost effective way to improve complementary feeding of children in poor rural households is by ensuring that nutritionally appropriate foods are available and utilized at household and community levels.
- Food based nutrition training tools and materials need to be used by the agriculture sector as part of capacity building and extension including sub national level training of trainers, farmer field schools and women- famer groups. For example, innovative nutrition materials, recipes and nutrient dense foods, fish-based products and food processing with a focus on improving diets and nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life need to be included in the training of women farmers and communities.
- To this end, there is need for strengthening the capacities of agriculture, livestock and fisheries service delivery structures and mechanisms at national and sub national levels, towards ensuring that nutrition sensitive interventions can be adequately planned, implemented and monitored for impact on nutrition status.
Contribution posted by Lalita Bhattacharjee and Antonio Schiavone, FAO Bangladesh
FAO’s National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme (NFPCSP) in Bangladesh - Communication and Outreach
FAO’s National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme (NFPCSP) has been providing technical support to strengthen Bangladesh’s institutional and human capacities to design, implement, and monitor food security and nutrition policies. Apart from strengthening the capacity of relevant ministries and government agencies, the Programme also promotes better access to food-security related information and knowledge exchange.
The Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) of the Ministry of Food is the Government unit responsible for monitoring the food security and nutrition situation in Bangladesh and the implementation of related policies. The FPMU collects stories and disseminates information for food security and nutrition analysis and policy formulation, and delivers evidence-based policy advice to the Government on issues relevant to food security and nutrition.
The NFPCSP Outreach Strategy is characterized by:
Objective 1. Enhancing dissemination to promote stability and efficiency (Food Security and Nutrition): Stability and efficiency can be achieved only if updated information of food security (e.g. production; government imports; price for domestic procurement) reaches market actors.
Objective 2. Creating an enabling environment for policy making: in addition to products, the FPMU’s outreach should contribute in creating an enabling environment for government policy decisions to happen.
FPMU is targeting a wide range of actors that includes development partners, research institutions, private sector (importers/producers/traders), media and the general public. Each group is important and can influence the policy process in different ways.
The Food Security and Nutrition Information System (FSNIS)
The FSNIS comprises: i) a Data Management System and its Food Security and Nutrition Data Portal (through the website) which provides the public an easy access to a comprehensive and continuously updated database of information on food security and nutrition data in Bangladesh. Through this portal data can be downloaded and analyzed in different formats; ii) the document repository consisting of an online Library (through the website) and physical documentation center; iii) a website containing all information on recent events and published reports (www.nfcpsp.org and www.fpmu.gov.bd)
ES Connect Mailing list
The website offers a space for publishing all the information products that are developed or stored. For the ‘promotion’ of FPMU/NFPCSP products, a more pro-active outreach approach to disseminate information products is the ES Connect mailing list. ES Connect is an online Customer Relation Management service of FAO's Economic and Social Development Department: by registering through the ES connect or the NFPCSP website, users receive emails with hyperlinks to some of the latest information products. While the hyperlinks to regular reports and policy briefs are systematically disseminated through the ES connect mailing list, products such as presentations, training and workshop materials, and interim research grants reports as well as events are in some cases uploaded on the website but not promoted.
Other Dissemination Tools
Courier-Post Mailing list (printed documents): For products such as the Fortnightly Food grain Report, Quarterly Food Situation Report, the FPMU prints and mails about 50 copies to government agencies (and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry –FBCCI).
Events and Meetings: Information products are also distributed in meetings/events organized by development partners and other stakeholders or by the FPMU/NFPCSP. Events organized by the FPMU/NFPCSP such as the Research Grant Workshops offer an important opportunity to reach out to a considerable amount of stakeholders, usually with products such as the monitoring report and policy briefs.
Results and Challenges:
- An Outreach Strategy was produced half way through the project and provided an excellent guide to plan, implement and monitor outreach activities
- Producing: Recognized quality of work produced has increased reputation and visibility of the project and of FPMU (now recognized as central focal point for food security policy). Good outreach and communication has of course contributed to this achievement, but most of all reputation and excellence greatly helps outreach!
- Publishing: Policy tools used have been adequate to the scope of the programme. For example the website has been maintained and developed thanks to dedicated resources assigned, as also the case for the documentation center.
- Promoting: The main challenge of the outreach process has been probably the promotion part. Frequent public events have effectively facilitated the distribution of products and increased visibility and availability of information to the general public as well as its uptake. However, more ad hoc promoting events could have been organized if more resources would have been assigned to this specific activity. From the project side, the programme and outreach officer, given also the size of the project, was forced to spend more time on the programming and management activities rather than communication. To this end a communication and outreach expert was not planned at the beginning of the project and the situation was adjusted half way. From the government side persistent delays in the recruitment of specialized personnel in FPMU (a librarian, a web site manager, etc) has hampered efforts to effectively transfer certain skills, leaving the burden entirely on the project’s programme and outreach officer. In general it seems that outreach and communication activities are still low in the agenda and the full potential of expanding this activity is yet to be fully recognized. It has to be said that also scarcity of resources force senior management to make strategic decisions that often tend to penalize communication.
- Communication and outreach starts with planning from the beginning of the project
- Assign dedicated resources
- Most of all, outreach will be greatly facilitated if there is a quality product to promote and for the target audience to uptake!
Nutrition education as a strategy to strengthen family farming households and improve people's diets
1. What are the existing national and regional programs which aim to improve the dietary quality and dietary diversity of farming families?
There is now increasing attention to improve diets and nutrition through agriculture. Doubling per capita agricultural income is associated with approximately 15 – 21% decline in stunting on average and increasing small scale production of nutrient dense foods. To this end nutrition education enhances potential consumer demand and impacts on nutrition. Joint government and research initiatives, UN technically supported and FtF programmes and several others are ongoing in Asian countries including Bangladesh. The CGIAR research programme, LANSA, SAFANSI, MDGF, IAHBI and SPRING are some examples of nutrition sensitive interventions that incorporate nutrition education as one the key programme components.
a. What educational and communication strategies have been used in these programs?
The farmer field school (FFS) learning process is being used to target resource poor households with pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of two for enhancing access to diversified nutrient rich vegetables, fish and poultry. Poultry rearing is harnessed for its important nutritional value to the household diet and its potential as an income generating activity for women. SPRING field facilitators ensure appropriate vegetable, poultry and fish production practices are adopted and link agricultural topics to household food consumption, intra-household food distribution and appropriate household dietary diversity, particularly for women and children. FFS participants are supported to breed poultry and fish and to grow up to five nutritious vegetables and fruits per planting season. FFS incorporate key messages on essential nutrition and hygiene actions into all vegetable, fish and poultry production activities. FFS are designed to respond to the needs of farmers and towards encouraging creativity and independence.
School feeding and nutrition gardens are another strategy that is being used. National statistics in Bangladesh show that less than 65 percent of the approximately 20 million children of primary school age attend school and around 40 percent are hungry during their lessons. The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education is implementing a pilot programme to improve the school attendance and nutrition of children 5 to 11 years from vulnerable families in approximately 45 schools in the Dhaka and nearby peri urban districts. Central kitchen models are operational and are being considered for replication to other districts. Following up on previous efforts supported by FAO in the Department of Agricultural Extension, integrated initiatives on school gardening coupled with nutrition education and food supplements have also been supported by a joint UN MDGf Programme in selected districts in the Southern region. Results show that nutrition knowledge among rural school students improved from 47.2% at baseline to 75% at the end of the programme with 120 schools each having established a school garden.
b. What main constraints and best practices have been identified?
Home gardening needs enhanced resilience to land degradation, water scarcity, bio-security (especially avian flu), and climate change, particularly in high risk areas, such as in the Southern region. National surveillance estimates show that 56% of households have only home gardens, 62% have backyard poultry but 42% of households with homestead gardens also have backyard poultry. Usually controlled by women, income from the home gardens is more likely to be used for education, health care and other expenses directly benefitting women and children.
National level analysis and monitoring in Bangladesh shows that support for homestead gardening, rearing small livestock, aquaculture and awareness creation is underfunded due to the fact homestead gardening is often covered as a component under larger agriculture or livelihood projects. Also required are low cost technologies for production, management, conservation and accessibility of nutrient rich fish along with nutrition education efforts to enhance fish intake in the diets of young children.
c. What other strategies have potential?
Support for increasing the production of small fish and promoting its consumption needs scaling up. Innovative farmer techniques to improve productivity, efficiency and efficacy of the food production/household farming base should be systematically investigated. Appropriate choice of species including plant and animal biodiversity to diversify the nutrition base in the garden and traditional resource use are potential areas that need to be strengthened for sustainable diets.
2. How can nutrition education increase the demand for local family farming produce with high nutritional value, and thus contribute to improving dietary diversity and to protecting traditional foods and the local food culture?
a. What are the existing programs in the region in this respect?
Behaviour change communication (BCC) programmes have been in operation in the Asian region. Such programmes are intended to promote positive nutrition outcomes based on proven theories and models of behaviour change. In Bangladesh one of the key points of emphasis in BCC is empowering communities and complementing existing nutrition systems and services and notably health and nutrition education has been going on as a health promotion and protection intervention since several decades with its networks extended up to the grass root level.
Few programmes and interventions exist that have mainstreamed nutrition beyond the health sector. There is an urgent need for health and nutrition forums to go beyond technical nutrition discussions and be open to other sectors, such as agriculture. Extensive homestead gardening, fish, poultry and cattle farming which address access issues to nutritious local foods, should be encouraged to ensure an adequate supply of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C as well other essential nutrients. There is need for promoting the availability and utilization of nutritious, diversified foods through better technologies and sustainable livelihood opportunities, reducing work load of rural women, and promoting better knowledge and behavior on nutrition, especially with regards to infant and young child feeding. Integrated agriculture and household farming interventions need to be increased to sustainably contribute to improve dietary diversity and nutritional status.
b. What main constraints and best practices can you identify?
Main constraints are inadequate systems and capacities of nutrition interventions. There is need for strengthening the systems and capacities of the not only health sectors but also agriculture, fisheries and livestock and education to ensure that direct nutrition interventions and nutrition sensitive interventions can be adequately planned, implemented and monitored for impact on nutrition status. This calls for continued training to ensure that frontline workers and agriculture extension workers have the knowledge, skills and tools to support nutrition in their sectors. Also training should be provided on mainstreaming nutrition into programme formulation and in extension practices.
Some best practices identified in some small scale ongoing programmes include use of food based nutrition education and training tools, materials, manuals, festoons, and bill boards by non health sectors as part of capacity building and extension activities including sub national level training of trainers, FFS and women famer groups’ training with a view to strengthening nutrition activities in livestock, fisheries and agriculture sectors. Innovative recipes, food preparations and cooking demonstrations and nutrition extension materials have been developed and are being promoted focusing on nutrition for the first 1000 days of life. This is showing improvement with greater women farmer’s participation and improvement in household diets and that of young children in the areas being covered by the programmes.
c. What other strategies have potential?
At the policy level, dietary guidelines and national food composition tables need to be explicitly used for planning and providing a nutrition orientation across multiple sectors aiming at mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture, food and health planning. A policy strategy that is showing potential is the Bangladesh Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food and Nutrition (2011 -2016). It is a country- led plan and process that supports increased effective public investment to increase and diversify food availability in a sustainable manner and improve access to food and nutrition security of the poor and malnourished. To this end, it has mainstreamed nutrition components, activities and indicators throughout the plan in an integrated way so as to impact delivery on nutrition outcomes.
Bangladesh team as below:
Lalita Bhattacharjee, Senior Nutritionist, FAO
Abdul Mannan, National Nutrition Advisor, FAO
Mostafa Banna, Associate Research Director, Food Planning and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Food
Aklima Parvin, National Nutrition Expert, Integrated Agriculture and Health Based Interventions, FAO
 Response prepared by Lalita Bhattacharjee, Senior Nutritionist, National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme, FAO
Dear FSN Forum and ICN2 Secretariat,
We have reviewed the draft of the Political outcome of the ICN2 both within the nutrition team at FAO and our government counterpart here in Bangladesh. Please find some inputs, suggestions for your consideration.
- General comments on the Draft of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition.
Well done, articulate and comprehensive. While there is an appropriate bias towards food systems, there is need for a clear articulation in strengthening/integrating nutrition outcomes into agriculture programming. Agricultural intervention programmes need to include explicit objectives of improving nutritional status with a focus on addressing child under nutrition, notably child stunting through building strengthened linkages between complementary feeding requirements/practices and agricultural production. The most sustainable, cost effective way to improve complementary feeding of children in poor rural households is by ensuring that nutritionally appropriate foods are available and utilized at household and community levels.
[read more in the form attached, Ed.]
Background and rationale
Poor diet affects the poor, middle class and the rich alike. To this end, one of the goals of responsible agriculture investments is producing healthy foods that contributes to sustainable diets and health of individuals, households and the community at large. One of the keys to achieving this is a policy environment in which nutrition is better understood and valued.
Objective, nature and scope
- The principles would also need to recognize the role of updated, science- based dietary guidelines that are contextually appropriate and that need to be widely promoted for the renewed attention of policy makers, programmers, private sector, media and the consumers.
- This is one of the essential pre requisites to enhance the supply and demand for good food choices from what is locally available and accessible.
- To this end, dietary assessment including ‘total diet studies’ can help influence food policy, while nutrition education using the results of these studies can stimulate a demand for judicious food choices.
Food Security and Nutrition and the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security: Principle 1
- The objectives are well outlined. In addition to improving access to and availability of sufficient, safe and nutritious foods…. there is a need for an explicit focus on improving the diets and nutritional status of young children (6 to 23 months of age), adolescent girls and women in addition to household members and communities on the whole.
- Applications would need to also encompasses technical principles such as knowledge, skills, technology and confidence at the farmer’s levels to produce/process foods and reach out to markets; awareness and ability to understand how nutrition-linked investment can have substantial health and financial returns at the trader’s levels; and behavior change strategies for improving food and nutrition on a sustainable basis at the consumer levels.
- Scientific documentation and nutrient analysis of indigenous and underutilized foods, seldom used parts of plants and functional foods are warranted.
Economic and social issues: Principle 2
- A renewed responsibility is needed among agricultural planners and policy makers to strike a balance between nutrition-linked value chains and an enabling environment for incentives in agriculture investments.
- Improved market structures in many of the fast developing countries are changing the way in which people access food. Some of the nutritious crops (millets, whole grains), legumes, horticulture produce, small fish species and beneficial indigenous foods that used to feature in traditional dietaries, are now losing their place in markets in favor of some few and largely produced/ processed foods that are possibly more affordable but potentially less healthy. This is impacting on the diversity and nutritional quality of what is purchased, processed and consumed.
- Agriculture investments from private and public sectors can therefore play a more significant role in enhancing a nutritious food supply in the market, which should be initiated right from primary production across the whole chain.
- Investments should explicitly address healthy eating habits among children and adults; create access and demand for nutrient/micronutrient-rich local foods, increase vegetable and fruit intake, promote safe and environmentally friendly produce and packaging, nutrition education and enable better nutrient returns for the money spent.
Cultural Issues: Principle 4
- Investments should also encompass storage and conservation of seed banks, strengthening/building upon appropriate processing technologies, local small livestock breeds, small fish species and indigenous food systems unique to agro ecological and cultural contexts
- Farmers, notably women farmers or women farmer groups should be mobilized as part of mainstream institutional arrangements and mechanisms for both income and nutrition relevant ventures
- Consideration should be given to household allocation of resources, capital, knowledge, local agricultural technologies and time.
Policy Coherence and Sector Development: Principle 5
- Policy capacity strengthening would be a foremost priority that needs sustained attention.
- Policy principles and tools that reinforce the nutrition mandate of food and agriculture sectors, bridge the interface with health sectors, prioritize nutrition sensitive investments with coordinated institutional arrangements for analysis and monitoring policy implementation will need to be developed and elaborated according to country contexts.
- This should in turn serve to mobilize and enhance commitment for funding and resource allocation for agriculture investments from governments, development partners and the private sector so as to impact nutrition improvement on a truly sustainable basis.
Lalita Bhattacharjee, Nutritionist, National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangladesh.
 Bangladesh Country Investment Plan for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition (2010 -2015)
 National Food Policy Plan of Action and Country Investment Plan, Monitoring Report 2013, FPMU, Ministry of Food.
Integrated home gardening, and farming systems for nutrition – Example from the South of Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, integrated home gardens fall within the national concept of “Ekti Badi, Ekti Khamar” meaning one household, one farm.” In rural areas, 75% of households reportedly have a home garden. A range of 25 fruit crops, 29 vegetables, and 12 spices can be cultivated, even in small home gardens of less than 50 square-metres. Income from the home gardens is usually controlled by women and is more likely to be used for better diets, education, health care and others directly benefitting women and children. Estimates from the national Food Security and Nutritional Surveillance Project 2011-12, show that 56% of households have only home gardens, 62% have backyard poultry but 42% of households with homestead gardens also have backyard poultry. The same source also estimates that homestead gardening with backyard poultry g decreased from 41% in February-May of 2010-11 to 35% in February-May of 2011-12. The current situation shows that integrated home gardening needs enhanced resilience to land degradation, water scarcity, bio-security (especially avian flu), and climate change, particularly in high risk areas, such as in the Southern region in Bangladesh.
Around a tenth of gardens in selected villages of the Southern districts were destroyed completely by soil salinity, and seeds could not germinate. Amidst this situation, about half of the households implemented coping practices using organic compost and a little over a third planted crops in pits leached with water. Mulching with rice straw, coconut coir and other locally available organic materials were used to increase water retention of the soil and develop compost. Greater resilience was found in salinity among vegetable crops which include Indian spinach (pui shak), sweet gourd, okra and kang kong (kolmi shak) which are good sources of micronutrients. Kang kong was noted to be the most saline resistant crop but this is relatively new to Southern Bangladesh. It is essential that strategies and input resources have specific nutrition considerations integrated into agriculture extension while promoting integrated home gardening, particularly in flood affected areas. Households with larger plots of land are also seen to be moving from rice cultivation to shrimp cultivation which is more remunerative and this has affected the day labour opportunities for poor households. Households with better knowledge and means to adopt salinity coping practices were mostly the better off ones.
Submitted by Drs Lalita Bhattacharjee (Nutritionist), Abdul Mannan (National Nutrition Adviser), National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangladesh and Mostafa Faruq Al Banna (Associate Research Director), Food Planning and Monitoring Unit, Ministry of Food, Bangladesh
1. If you were designing an agriculture investment programme, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition?
- As part of the agricultural policy, it would be foremost necessary to view agriculture within an ecosystem context rather than focus on enhancing production and productivity alone. The agricultural system should be able to provide a diverse variety of foods that can be locally grown/produced. From a household nutrition perspective, this should encompass an integrated farming system that supports the production of integrated horticulture, small livestock, indigenous food systems and pond aquaculture.
- In promoting local foods for household food security and nutrition, engage national and sub national level agriculture specialists assist in identifying a list of nutritious local foods ( indigenous roots, herbs, leaves, fruits, and fish ), suitable for production in household gardens in collaboration with the community for production and promotion of affordable local foods compatible with the local ecosystems.
- Identify and establish explicit nutrition (production, consumption and dietary diversity and anthropometric) indicators to be monitored as part of nutritional impact assessment especially focusing on the first 1000 days of life covering the period from conception until 2 years of age.
- Integrate and incorporate a set of core, consistent and critical messages in nutrition for dissemination across core sectors of agriculture, food and health extension services so as to enhance consumption of a variety of foods - on correct food combinations, preparations, processing using appropriate technologies and storage for household and community levels focusing on enhancing the diets of mothers and young children.
- Invest in training and capacity building of extension workers, community workers and women farmer groups across agriculture, livestock and fisheries and health sectors equipping them with an integrated package of agriculture, nutrition, health and hygiene promotion modules.
2. To support the design and implementation of this programme, where would you like more research to be done, and why?
- Developing, documenting and promoting nutrient dense food varieties/cultivars/species also specific to agro climatic conditions are required at national levels. This would include HYV cereal varieties, coarse grains/millets, nutrient - rich pulses, local poultry and indigenous/small fish species as well as insects, livestock development and genetic improvement with a focus on cow and goat for milk production, mushrooms, vegetables and fruits (yellow sweet potato, pumpkin, leguminous/bean vegetables, vegetable and fruits rich in pro vitamin A carotenoids, citrus fruits and others), herbs, spices and medicinal plants.
- Establishing mixed fruit orchards and intercropping for increasing production of horticulture foods that provide micronutrients, anti oxidants and intensifying the process of crop diversification to make available more energy and protein rich foods at affordable cost .eg. sorghum, millets and maize; intercropping to produce non staple food crops.
- Such research is required not only make available a range of nutritious foods and food combinations but also to address issues of bioavailability that is crucial for the development and promotion of food based strategies based on dietary diversification. Overall, it is necessary for sustainable increase of diversified food production with a nutrition orientation that is developed through improved technology and resilient management practices.
3. What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?
- Research and academic organizations, relevant UN agencies, Development partners as well as the private sector (as and where necessary) will need to commit support through innovative technical expertise, technology transfer, strengthening extension services, establishing /strengthening food storage and supply chain facilities, policy advice, monitoring and strengthening policy implementation with achievement of targets and nutrition improvement outcomes and impacts especially on maternal and child nutrition.
- Country- led agriculture plans and initiatives need to be developed that are anchored in the policy, programmatic and financial frameworks of the national development plans and strategies. Prioritization and costing of agriculture and food security interventions that impact on nutrition are required in addition to putting in place processes and systems that are results- based, guide monitoring and implementation and demonstrate policy impact to enable effectiveness of nutrition oriented agriculture interventions.
- Given the climate change impacts on food and nutrition security particularly for the vulnerable poor, integrated agricultural development and resilience interventions and actions will be required that lead to enhanced production, productivity, balanced growth, value chain and increased access to food and nutrition through appropriate institutional arrangements and sustainable resource management.
- Strengthen the integration of nutrition education through agricultural extension, investing in and mobilizing women and supporting agricultural tasks that women are engaged in and prioritizing those that generate employment and improve nutrition of households and children.