Segunda Conferencia Internacional sobre Nutrición (CIN-2), 19-21 de noviembre de 2014

Nutritional Deficiencies as Driver for Agriculture Value Chain Development: Lessons from the Field

Paul Sommers

The search for effective ways to link agricultural resources to resolve nutritional problems has been an on and off challenge for more than 4 decades. Despite the impressive surge in effort over the past few years the fact remains genuine integration at all levels is very challenging. Why? If our collective challenge is to solve specific diet-related deficiencies, effectively communicating that challenge is the clear starting point so that barriers to change are broken and awareness and demand for change is created. If approached in this way it comes down to a demand/ supply challenge. My straight forward approach to managing field projects has followed this simple point. Starting with the specific maternal/child nutritional gap and/or illness in zone of influence the staff explored how that problem (demand) could actually be addressed when viewed as a driver for agricultural supply chain upgrading. In other words, diet-related problems like the underconsumption of certain foods containing micronutrients (e.g. iron or carotene); diseases (e.g. diarrhea) or food safety issues (e.g. aflotoxin) can be prompts for adding value to crops that can in turn contribute to the solution. This represents a counter-intuitive response to most of status quo thinking about “nutrition” interventions. When viewed this way the key interventions from the technical support areas comprising agriculture, nutrition, health, business and cross-cut areas including gender and environmental resilience become contextual, strategic and clear for all. Nexus points are identified, messages are designed jointly and are mutually enforcing. Field activities are no longer implemented in isolation and at cross purposes. This paper presents actual field experiences where using nutrition as the driver for all sizes of agricultural value chain activities does result in lasting change. The policy implications of this approach are also discussed.

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