As someone, who is both an agriculturists and nutritionists, and who has worked on agriculture and nutrition linkages for more than 30 years primarily at field implementation level, my approach has been to put nutrition at the center as the driver for agricultural activities. As an agriculturalists, I am ready to use the tools in my resource kit to respond to demand and increase productivity of crops and or livestock. So nutrition has to take the lead and growers will then follow. Nutrition needs to identify the dietary gaps, especially micronutrient malnutrition, when the deficiencies occur, as well as locally grown and consumed crops that are nutrient dense in the micronutrients missing in the diet. Nutrition staff also need to work with communication specialists to design an effective behavioral change strategy so that demand for those foods are created. Once the dietary issues and crops are known and a market demand plan is in place then I can use the tools in my agriculture kit to work with small holder growers to increase on-farm availability for direct consumption as well as local market access of those crops.
The policy implications of this strategy are clear. Countries are quickly adopting the market based value chain approach as a main means of improving small holder food security. By viewing specific dietary deficiencies as drivers for new or expanding markets, the agricultural value chain approach takes on a whole new meaning where it not only grows incomes but addresses a very real and specific dietary issue in a specific location.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)