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Guidelines for developing national plans of action for nutrition

A book by AGN, FAO , 1994. Available in English and Spanish. At the invitation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), an international group of experts in nutrition, public health, food science and technology gathered in Rome from 19-26 October 1993 to consider the latest scientific evidence about dietary fats and oils. The experts attending the consultation discussed the many crucial and varied roles that dietary fats and oils play in human nutrition. They considered the intakes of different types and levels of dietary fats and oils and their associated health effects. They reviewed many of the technical factors associated with the production, processing, marketing and utilization of fats and oils. Finally, a series of recommendations about dietary fats and oils were made to assist policy makers, health-care specialists, the food industry, and consumers. This "Joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on fats and oils in human nutrition" was part of a continuing series of meetings on nutritionrelated topics which are sponsored by FAO and WHO. This consultation was the second such meeting to have been held on fats and oils; the first was held in 1977. This report of the meeting includes a discussion of the issues and evidence considered, the conclusions and recommendations of the group and a bibliography. A wide range of topics was reviewed by the experts and this is reflected in the report. This report includes chapters on the following topics: the composition of dietary fat; aspects of fat digestion and metabolism; global trends in the availability of edible fats and oils; processing and refining edible oils; selected uses of fats and oils in food; lipids in early development; health, obesity and energy values; coronary heart disease and lipoproteins; isomeric fatty acids; cancer and dietary fat; dietary fat and immune response; dietary fat, hypertension and stroke; nonglyceride components of fats; and nutrition labelling. Since efforts to address one aspect of diet-health relationships can affect other aspects as well, care needs to be taken not to over-emphasize any single issue to the detriment of others. The recommendations, therefore, reflect a synthesis and weighing of various concerns. It should be noted that the evidence related to the different topics varies considerably. Until more scientific information accumulates and the understanding of the complex metabolic interactions that determine nutritional and health status increases, it will not be possible to reach full agreement on each topic. This is a dilemma which is reflected in the nature of the conclusions and recommendations that emerged from the consultation. The final conclusions and recommendations are provided in this chapter, preceded by a brief note identifying key issues. We encourage readers to examine the chapters of the report for more detailed information about the topics considered and for insights into the deliberations leading to the general conclusions and recommendations of the consultation.

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Food Security in Southern Africa-Assessing the use of ENSO information

By Glantz, Betsill and Crandall, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG). Information about El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events potentially has much to offer in alleviating the impact of drought and improving food security in drought-prone countries. Advanced warning of ENSO and "teleconnected" drought could allow for flexible agricultural production practices, strategic management of grain and water reserves, minimal budgetary impacts, and effective management of donor relief. This study reviews the actual as well as potential use of ENSO information during the 1991-92 drought in Southern Africa. Using the case-scenario method, this study assesses the use of ENSO information during the drought situation and then considers how the national, regional and international responses to the drought might have been different had ENSO information been widely available to decision makers in March 1991. A set of possible responses is identified based on information obtained from open-ended questionnaires and interviews that, in theory, could have been taken with earlier information. Political, social, and economic constraints to the actual use of this information are also identified, which enables us to distinguish between the theoretical and actual value of ENSO information in this particular drought situation. In the final chapter, we note that many lessons were learned from the 1991/92 drought in Southern Africa which have enhanced the potential utility of ENSO information for food security in the region. Nevertheless, potential users still face obstacles in their ability to use ENSO information in decision making. These include questions about the reliability of forecasts, delays in the timing of forecasts, a lack of understanding of what the forecasts mean, as well as concerns about the utility of regional-scale forecasts for local level decision making.

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The One to Watch - Radio, New ICTs and Interactivity

This book grew out of a FAO workshop organised in February 2001 entitled Information and Communication Technologies Servicing Rural Radio: New Contents, New Partnerships. It focuses on the use of the Internet by radio stations in their efforts to support initiatives for democratic and sustainable development and it includes insights and experiences from all parts of the globe.

30.05.2012
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Edible insects in LAO PDR

An innovative FAO's Project is promoting sustainable insects farming and harvesting for better food security and improved nutrition in LAO PDR. A recent FAO survey found out that over 95% of the population already consumes insects in a way or another. The insects high vitamin and protein content can help improving the country food and nutrition situation.

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Sahel Food Crisis 2012 - A Cyclical or Exceptional Crisis?

ROME - A new food and nutrition crisis is hitting the African Sahel, affecting the poorest African countries. A total of 18 million people between Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal are in urgent need for assistance to meet basic needs such as water, food, shelter and healthcare. [...]

28.05.2012
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Gendered Impacts of Conservation Agriculture and Paradox of Herbicide Use among Smallholder Farmers

Progress H. Nyanga, Fred H. Johnsen, Thomson H. Kalinda

Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly taking a central stage in agricultural policies and rural development among developing countries like Zambia. The challenge of gender gaps in agriculture has persisted despite efforts of gender mainstreaming. This paper assesses gender based impacts of conservation agriculture (CA) basins among smallholder farmers under the Conservation Agriculture Programme (CAP) in Zambia. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Quantitative data was analysed mainly by descriptive statistics and qualitative data by thematic and content analysis. Results indicated that women and children experienced reduction in labour with respect to clearing of fields before tillage and during weeding where herbicides were used correctly. Improvement in household food security was also reported. Digging of CA basins was labour intensive and the chaka hoe was heavy for women. Labour requirement for women and children was more than for men during hand weeding. Herbicides have increased labour requirements for men because they are predominantly involved in spraying. Women needed to reduce their labour during weeding but feared that the use of herbicides would increase food insecurity during hunger peak period. This was because the use of herbicides is inconsistent with the practice of mixed cropping and selection of valuable wild vegetables that were important for food security. Results suggest that usage of herbicide such as atrazine could have health concerns that may affect women more than men. Use of herbicides raises questions as to what extent CA is environmentally sustainable. Interventions in CA need to be both gender sensitive and minimise tradeoffs between health concerns, socio-economic benefits and environmental sustainability.

16.05.2012
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Food Security, Conservation Agriculture and Pulses: Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Zambia

Food insecurity is common place among 44% (six million) of Zambian population. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an option being promoted to address this problem. There is little evidence showing whether CA adopters are better than non-CA adopters in terms of food security. Using a four years panel data, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, informal discussions and personal observations, this study documents the differences in household food security between CA adopters and non-CA adopters in relation to pulses. Results showed that most common pulses grown among smallholder farmers were groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans and other beans. A tendency for the percentage of households growing pulses to be significantly higher among CA-adopters than among non-CA adopters was recorded. Cash income from pulses as percentage of total pulses production was significantly higher among CA adopters than among non-CA adopter in all the four years. Similar results were obtained for crop diversity and mean number of meals with pulses eaten in a day. Cases of women increasing their cash income from pulses because of CA practices were also reported. Focus group discussants explained that CA had reduced the intensity of food shortage during the peak hunger period because of early green harvest. With reference to pulses, it is concluded from this study that, among sampled smallholder farmers, CA adopters are relatively more food secure than non-CA adopters. Factors contributing to increased food security included farmer trainings in CA, increased access to planting seed, early land preparation and planting, and revitalisation of the practice of crop rotation.

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Africa Human Development Report 2012

The 2012 Human Development Report for Africa explores why dehumanizing hunger remains pervasive in the region, despite abundant agricultural resources, a favorable growing climate, and rapid economic growth rates. It also emphasizes that food security – the ability to consistently acquire enough calories and nutrients for a healthy and productive life - is essential for human development. 

To boost food security, it argues for action in four interrelated areas: agricultural productivity, nutrition, access to food, and empowerment of the rural poor. It asserts that increasing agricultural productivity in sustainable ways can bolster food production and economic opportunities, thereby improving food availability and increasing purchasing power. Effective nutrition policies can create conditions for the proper use and absorption of calories and nutrients. Finally, empowering the rural poor - especially women - and harnessing the power of information, innovation, and markets can promote equitable allocation of food and resources within families and across communities.

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Climate-Responsive Social Protection

In the years ahead, development efforts aiming at reducing vulnerability will increasingly have to factor in climate change, and social protection is no exception. This paper sets out the case for
climate‐responsive social protection and proposes a framework with principles, design features, and functions that would help SP systems evolve in a climate‐responsive direction. The principles comprise climate‐aware planning; livelihood‐based approaches that consider the full range of assets and institutions available to households and communities; and aiming for resilient communities by planning for the long term. Four design features that can help achieve this are: scalable and flexible programs that can increase coverage in response to climate disasters; climate‐responsive targeting systems; investments in livelihoods that build community and household resilience; and promotion of better climate risk management

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Exchanging Agricultural Market Information through SMS in Cambodia

Market information is essential for agricultural development and to improve food security, particularly for small‐scale producers and traders, who typically have limited access to, and understanding of market information and analysis.
Good market information helps ensure transparency, competitiveness and the more equitable sharing of benefits between market participants. Effective market information systems reduce information asymmetries, increase competitiveness, and improve marketing system efficiencies. For small farmers, this can help strengthen their bargaining position and improve their understanding of marketing opportunities and options. For traders, market information can help identify producers and others traders, expand their business and bargain more efficiently. Good market information is also an essential ingredient for governments to take appropriate policy decisions in support of agricultural growth and enhanced food security.