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Future Smart Food

Issue Paper

This publication contributes to SO1 and under Regional Initiative on Zero Hunger Challenge. Eradication of hunger and malnutrition as well as climate change are major challenges in Asia and the Pacific. Dietary and production diversity are recognized factors in strategies to improve food security and nutrition. 

Currently, agriculture has an over-reliance on a handful of major staple crops. In this regard, Future Smart Food (FSF), often referred to as Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) represent a promising abundance of food resources and constitute the bedrock of the food system diversity. FSF have enormous benefits which are nutrition-density, climate-resilience and economic viability. 

To tap the potential of FSF, FAO RAP has organized a Regional Expert Consultation on FSF through an interdisciplinary priority-setting exercise, in collaboration with the FAO Special Ambassador for the International Year of Pulses, the University of Western Australia, ICARDA, ICRISAT, MSSRF-LANSA, CATAS-TCGRI, Mahidol University, ACIAR, ICIMOD, CFF, as well as eight national research institutes from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Viet Nam and West Bengal in India. This policy brief will carry the ten recommendations made by participants at the Consultation forward and through them, aim at multiplying desirable outcomes. It will also serve as project update and facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience from successful project implementation under RI-ZHC. The publication shall raise awareness on the importance of policies to create an enabling environment for agricultural diversification and sustainable intensification.

The policy brief will report on project activities under the Regional Initiative on Zero Hunger Challenge and feature topics that are related to agricultural diversification, eradication of hunger and malnutrition, climate change resilience, and sustainable food systems including improved agro-food value chains. It is also a follow-up product from the Regional Expert Consultation on Neglected and Underutilized Crop Species (NUS) that was held under the Regional Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative by FAO RAP in December 2016. 

The policy brief will feature a list of recommendations that have been jointly agreed on by national and international experts as well as FAO at the Consultation, with strategies for policy-makers on how to support FSF to address hunger and malnutrition in a changing climate through appropriate national policies. During the Consultation, 39 high-potential crops have been identified by national research partners in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, West Bengal (India) and Vietnam based on established criteria with regard to nutrition, agro-ecology and socio-economic considerations. At the end of the brief, suggestions on the way forward under a regional project will be presented, as well as a Theory of Change towards Sustainable Food Systems including sustainable demand, supply and markets.

Published: 2018
Publisher: FAO
Geography: Asia & Pacific