Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Making agriculture work for nutrition: Prioritizing country-level action, research and support

Dear Members,

There is now considerable interest among international development organizations and practitioners in agriculture programming and policy to improve nutrition.

A recent “Synthesis of Guiding Principles on Agriculture Programming for Nutrition” has highlighted the increasing number of international development institutions formally weighing in on the topic – and found that the key messages are often similar.  The synthesis identifies 20 principles independently voiced by multiple institutions for planning, implementing, and supporting nutrition-sensitive agriculture, as well as a number of gaps that limit action on these principles.

Building on the earlier FSN forum debate “Linking Agriculture, Food Systems, and Nutrition: What’s your perspective?” and the synthesis, the objective of this discussion is to distill and prioritize actions needed at country-level, research gaps, and support needed out of the substantial international dialogue on improving nutrition through food and agriculture.  

What are the main approaches we collectively see as most important?  What are some practical recommendations that can more effectively promote, support, and guarantee the integration of nutrition into agriculture and food security investments?  What research is needed?  

This discussion is timed strategically before several influential meetings involving agriculture-nutrition linkages and your contributions will be made available at and incorporated into upcoming nutrition and agriculture-related meetings, such as the SUN, CFS (Committee on World Food Security), GCARD (Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development), and CAADP Nutrition Workshop (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme).  Participation in this discussion will allow your voice to be heard at these agenda-setting events.


Based on your own knowledge and experience in the area of improving nutrition through food and agriculture programmes:

  1. If you were designing an agricultural investment programme, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition?
  2. To support the design and implementation of this programme, where would you like to see more research done, and why?
  3. What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?

As you answer each of these questions, please share practical insights, evidence, and anecdotes from your personal experience researching, implementing, or advocating.

We thank you in advance for the time and thought you contribute to responding – time well-spent, we believe, for the influence your comments will have.


Anna Herforth (consultant to World Bank and FAO)

Cristina Lopriore (member of the EU Nutrition Advisory Services, facilitating in her own personal capacity)

This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Final note by Cristina Lopriore and Anna Herforth

We are astounded by the richness of this discussion. There are so many important, useful, well-said ideas that it is impossible to make note of them all without copying and pasting the entire proceedings. We are grateful to those who contributed in writing, as well as those many more who read and thought about the contributions. More largely, we are grateful for the important work you do with conviction, as expressed through the thoughts you shared – truly actualizing these ideas. Participants wrote in from many parts of the world, based in many professional and student roles; that we were able to share across these boundaries on a topic of common interest is one of the best parts of this Forum. How encouraging it was to see class projects inspired by the discussion from the University of Guyana; and responses from the very people who are sometimes the focus of advice in this topic: students in non-nutrition academic training programs, ministry staff, and women agriculture extension and marketing professionals! We are encouraged that this topic was important to you, and we are grateful to read your contributions.

We introduced this discussion with the idea to provide inputs and key points back to upcoming high-level agenda-setting events, such as the CFS (next week), GCARD, workshop on nutrition in CAADP, and others. Remarks made by leaders of global organizations at the recent SUN high-level event at the UNGA meetings in New York (Sept 27, 2012) provides a way of putting this discussion into perspective of the global momentum around this topic. José Graziano da Silva (FAO Director General) emphasized the need to recover traditional foods and gastronomy, as an opportunity to promote small-scale farmers and local production; and also to increase food and nutrition education in view of both obesity and hunger. Tamar Manuelyan Atinc (World Bank VP, Human Development) spoke of the need to produce affordable, diverse, nutritious foods throughout the year, as an essential to child growth and nutrition, itself essential to poverty reduction; and ensuring that the Bank’s large agriculture investments have nutrition objectives and indicators. As noted by moderator David Nabarro, these comments represent a transformation happening within institutions, new resources being directed toward improved nutrition, and willingness of leaders to be accountable and to learn.

What is particularly encouraging about this momentum is that all of these institutions have many messages in common about the best way to link agriculture and nutrition, as shown in the synthesis paper shared at the outset of this discussion. Contributors to this Forum discussion represented a different cross-section of professionals than those involved in publishing the recent guidance; yet nonetheless, all the same key principles were raised many times over. These are some of the principles echoed very strongly in this discussion:

•    The importance of understanding the nutrition situation, through participatory assessment, and causal analysis to understand pathways to nutrition outcomes for given set of actions. In combination with understanding the resources available, this will help focus resources on solutions that would address the problems.

•    Nutrition objectives, and their measurement through monitoring and evaluation, as critical for designing programs to address nutrition, to link production better with nutritional needs, and for accountability.

•    Systematic assessment of both positive and negative impacts.

•    Emphasis on nutritional quality of food produced, not just quantity – supported through diversification, research, and national policy.

•    Actions to empower women and put women at the center of interventions.

•    Nutrition education in many forms.

•    Natural resource management in many forms (e.g crop rotation, protection from soil erosion, biocontrol of pests).

•    Reduction of food waste, and the important roles of value chain actors around food storage and distribution.

•    Better access to markets, including infrastructure and post-harvest value addition, balanced with an approach that does not over-emphasize economic profit over diets and sustainability.

•    Collaboration and communication across sectors and among all stakeholders.

•    Advocacy for nutrition, with messages especially tailored to investors and those with ample political and financial resources (e.g. governments, private sector).

•    Capacity building in extension, educators, and government staff.

While consistent with current institutional guidance as summarized above, there are a number of distinct priorities your Forum contributions emphasized more strongly:

•    Environmentally sustainable production, including organic and low-input production, more innovative fertilization techniques and agronomic practices supporting soil biota.

•    Diversity as the primary production approach (more than the language of “growing nutrient-rich foods”). The viewpoint is concerned with access to nutrient-rich diets among smallholders, but additionally reflects the value of biodiversity for both humans and ecosystems.

•    Underutilized/orphan crops; and in the “do no harm” category, consideration of not only the impact of what is sown, but what may be lost in the harvest – including traditional knowledge as well as wild foods and indigenous crop varieties.

•    Outcomes for communities, not just households or individuals, given the strong influence of local resources, knowledge, and norms on behavior.

•    Overnutrition and undernutrition as both important nutrition problems, equally indicative of an inefficient and inequitable food system.

•    Resilience in risk management and disaster response/mitigation, and including climate change considerations in all plans.

•    Participatory or community-led approaches in program planning.

These themes emphasize, consistent with FSN Forum discussion #76, a “systems approach for looking at how food and agriculture can contribute to better nutrition.” The research needs identified were very much along the lines of how to carry out the above priorities effectively, and with the right tools and technologies. We need to generate knowledge in “what works” – and ensure that more of it be documented and shared. Here, the supporting role of our institutions becomes important.

So what can our institutions do? These are the priorities we heard:

1.    Carry out the recommendations voiced above in our operational work: Focus on local solutions and systems (context matters). Focus on women. Focus on vulnerable groups in a way that empowers. Focus on nutrition education including traditional knowledge. Do everything within an overarching goal to improve resilience and empowerment of households and communities, based in the natural resource base of water, living soil, and biological and genetic diversity.

2.    Foster collaboration and communication – across sectors, across institutions.

3.    Support research and evaluation of agriculture-nutrition projects: 1.with financial and human resources, and 2. with tools, methodologies, and indicators (for example, developing “mutual metrics” to consistently and accurately measure progress and impact, such as indicators of food security, dietary diversity, and women’s empowerment).

4.    Advocate for nutrition. Shape understanding of “food security” in terms of dietary and nutrition impact.

5.    Widely share knowledge: The international organizations have a role in providing easy access to common guidance and messages, important reports and forums, to reduce information asymmetry. Our institutions have a role in communication and knowledge sharing, for example through discussions like this one.

There is now a great deal of momentum around nutrition, and commitments of agencies to increase attention to nutrition through agriculture. There are a series of high-level meetings on these topics in the coming months and through 2013, and input from this discussion can emphasize a certain tone of inclusion. Together we were able to prioritize some key messages that should come across clearly to planners and policy-makers, and all actors. We hope to see a very productive year for nutrition, and this discussion certainly has already, and will continue to contribute to the momentum. We again thank you for your time, thought, and rich inputs.

Anna and Cristina

Kamal Karunagoda

Socio Economics and Planning Center Department of Agriculture
Sri Lanka

1. If you were designing an agricultural investment program, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition?

•    Scrutinize the appropriateness of current agricultural development ideas vis a vis improving nutrition.  The rural community had endowed with rich and diverse sources of foods. If analyzed properly, traditional food habits and diversity were able to provide adequate nutrition and nutrient content of those foods were comparable to the modern recommendations.  Many interventions have been adopted to improve agricultural production but impact of bizarre development ideas has resulted less availability quality foods, loss of important plant genetic resources  and less diversity of food in many regions. Participatory approaches in agricultural development planning would make better outcome than top down approaches.  

•    Promotion of appropriate farming systems to improve local availability of food in regions where chronic malnutrition prevails.  

The recent statistics indicate increase in proportion of population with malnutrition.   The prevalence of high levels of malnutrition in rural areas, particularly among agricultural households, indicates that there are constraints in availability, affordability and accessibility to adequate nutrition.  These constraints are brought about by differences in many factors such as institutional setup, infrastructure, socio-economic characteristics, and quality of resource base. Decrease in nutritional status in rural areas needs special attention in development planning.    Investments on R&D and increase in adaptive research, allocation of resources to promote local production of food would improve the local availability and accessibility of food.  Promotion of diversity in farming systems in non-food production agricultural region would be a challenge as workers may not have property rights for lands to invest on food production.  Therefore, innovations are required in such regions to promote appropriate farming systems to cater for nutrition of residential labor force and their families.  

Support for local innovations and scaling up of identified innovations would provide fast track approach to expedite agriculture work for nutrition.

•    Investments in supply chain development and capacity development programs to improving household nutrition.

Improvement in both economic and agricultural indicators, both at macro and micro levels, has been witnessed during the past few decades.  Despite these developments, nutritional indicators of children and adults show deterioration in many regions.  It indicates the influence of other factors on nutrition of households.  The changes in socio-economic environment may have induced households to demand more non-food than food and thus, considerable portion of household’s income has to be allocated to non-food items.  Further, household’s dependency on formal market for food and nutrition has been increased overtime. Therefore, investments in improvement of efficiency of food supply chains, promotion/development of food markets at micro level and concerted effort to improve household’s knowledge on proper nutrition would be imperative investments in promotion of agriculture working for nutrition.  Improved efficiency of markets and knowledgeable households would stimulate demand and supply forces.   The services of extension officers could be enhanced to pass the messages of nutrition for the benefit of farmer community as well as consumers.  

•    Conservation and popularization of traditional food crops/trees to increase local availability and diversity of food.

Traditional knowledge and practices had been in place to protect and sustain agriculture work for nutrition for many decades.  The value of these resources has not been given adequate attention in agricultural policies and interventions that were undertaken to increase food production.  Consequently, many agricultural areas have transferred from high crop/food diversity to low food diversity regions. Degradation of natural resources (soil, water and plant genetic resources), deterioration of local knowledge on nutritive foods are also evident in these agricultural regions.  

The recent advances in agriculture have improved food availability but the capacity of these advances to work for nutritional equity is limited by many economic and non-economic factors.  The climate and geographical heterogeneity of different agricultural sub regions may not provide single solution to the theme.  Regional specific policies that rely on local knowledge and promotion of traditional knowledge/crops related to nutrition would support agriculture working for nutrition. Promotion of participatory approaches in natural resource conservation, increase public investments in conservation of food-plant genetic materials, maintenance of food supply abilities of different land classes (eg. seasonal and perennial crop lands), adoption of strategic policies to avoid causes of degradation of diverse food sources, strategic interventions in private land use on non-agricultural purposes are imperative for agriculture to work for nutrition.  

•    Coordination of production/supply programs to reduce seasonality of supply

Seasonality of food supply may act as a constraint to promote agriculture work for nutrition.  There is a need of technological breakthrough for off-seasonal agricultural production or utilization of natural climate differences to maintain food supply levels.  Further, innovations and incentives are necessary to reduce severe seasonal fluctuation of supply and prices.    It would be a difficult task to coordinate large number of small scale farmers in production decision but, use of ICT would provide cost effective solution to implement supply management programs.   Diversification of farm income sources and institutional development to stabilize farm prices are required for stabilization of farm income.  

•    Promote home gardening and protected agriculture to increase supply during off-season.

Home gardening provides numerous health benefits through nutrition and recreation.  Home gardener’s effort should be facilitated with educational programs  and availability of inputs.  The small gardens could be developed into agricultural gardens that are working  for nutrition.

2. To support the design and implementation of this program, where would you like to see more research done, and why?

i.    More R&D on  locally available plant genetic resources to improve nutrition and use of traditional knowledge related to  nutrition.   

ii.    Use of perennial tree food crops to supplements seasonal crop production and off-seasonal food supply.  The capacity of tree crops in nutrition has not fully utilized and tree crops can provide year round food supply.   

iii.    Use of different land classes to supplement food demands.  More attention has been given to increase seasonal crops in low lands.  The importance of highlands in food production has not given adequate attention and high lands are being converted to non-agricultural purposes.     

iv.    Institutional impacts , particularly laws and regulation, and changes in land markets could prevent land use for agriculture in  suburbs of urban centers. The land masses around urban centers could remain idle due to non-agricultural interests, property right issues, economics of crop production and poor market development.  Utilization of these land masses close to the urban markets needs R&D investments, policy changes and support of many institutions.   

3. What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?

1.    Support in  identification of best solution that is adaptable to regional needs and promote institutional partnership to achieve nutritional objectives

The lack of high correlation between economic growth and nutrition indicates the need of alternative measures for agriculture to work for nutrition. In such a situation, policies and research could play an important role in promoting agriculture to work for nutrition. Statistics are available on regions with severe malnutrition problems.  The necessary conditions to overcome this problem are; action plan, targeted R&D investments, promotion of financial and institutional commitments to achieve the targets.  Informal education could be promoted to enhance nutrition and transfer of local knowledge to practice.  Policy directives and budgetary commitments have to be focused more on conservation of diverse food sources and promotion of cultivation. 

1. If you were designing an agricultural investment programme, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition?

Au Cameroun à l’exemple de l’Afrique subsaharienne, la zone des savanes est plus vulnérable que la zone forestière. Les programmes abordant les thématiques suivantes seraient prioritaires :

1.1- Accroitre la production agricole : en particulier intensifier à travers les axes suivants,

- renforcer l’accès aux intrants agricoles de qualité, avec en priorité les semences, les engrais et les produits phyto-sanitaires. Par exemple, le système semencier au Cameroun est orienté d’abord vers les cultures industrielles (cacao, coton, bananier, palmier), très faiblement vers les denrées amylacées (céréales, racine et tubercules) et les fruitiers (agrumes, manguiers), quasi-inexistant pour les légumineuses (arachides, niébé, haricot, soja) et les légumes feuilles. Au niveau animalier, seule la filière « poulet » semble émerger. Les efforts de développement des autres espèces animales (bovin, ovin, caprin, porcs...) et halieutiques sont soit inexistants soit imperceptibles.

- accroitre les possibilités de mécanisation de certaines opération-clés : labour (traction animale ou tracteur motorisé), semis (semoir mécanisé ou motorisé) et égrenage. Il y a insuffisance de ces prestations à travers des services collectifs ou individuels. Au nord-Cameroun, seuls 15 à 20% des exploitations ont des équipements de traction animale (paire de bœuf, âne, cheval) et le semis et l’égrenage se font à 95-99% manuellement.

1.2 – Mieux gérer la production

- renforcer le stockage des récoltes. Des initiatives publiques (Office Céréalier, MIRAP) et privées (Confédération Nationale des Producteurs de Coton du Cameroun) et humanitaires (PAM) existent dans le sahel mais elles sont individuelles. Leur effets sont parcellaires et leur impact peu visible sur les populations (au sahel).

1.3- Mieux éduquer sur la nutrition

- Inclure l’éducation nutritionnelle dans les programmes de formation des formateurs et de renforcement des capacités des producteurs entre autre acteurs agro-sylvo-pastoraux. L’importance nutritionnelle des légumineuses, des légumes-feuilles, des fruits tropicaux, des insectes (termites) de lait (bovin), des œufs (poules, canard, pigeons, cailles) et bien d’autres produits animaux et halieutiques entre autres produits forestiers non-ligneux est mal connue (ou absolument pas) par les groupes vulnérables et les décideurs. Cette biodiversité est pourtant disponible et accessible. Elle mérite d’être mieux connue non seulement pour sa valeur marchande mais également pour sa richesse en nutriments.


2. To support the design and implementation of this programme, where would you like to see more research done, and why?

- Mieux appréhender la dynamique de diversification entamées par les paysans à travers les cultures de contre saison (sorgho de contre saison, maraichage, racines et tubercules), l’agriculture périurbaine et celle des bas fonds. La sécurité alimentaire reste une affaire des paysans tel que le montre les exemples du sorgho de contre saison (dans le bassin du lac Tchad) et du riz (réémergent depuis la crise cotonnière) au nord-Cameroun.

- densifier la recherche en faveur de systèmes de multiplication et fourniture des semences de qualité (céréales, légumineuses...), les systèmes favorisant la conservation des sols (couverture végétale) ou leur enrichissement (agro-foresterie, résidus de récoltes et autres matières organiques),

- comprendre les mécanismes actuels (public et privé) de stockage des récoltes (acteurs, financement, fonctionnement...) afin de les rendre davantage performants.

- étudier et communiquer sur la composition nutritionnelle des denrées et l’impact des traitements post-récolte et culinaires sur leur valeur et la disponibilité des nutriments. En fait la recherche gagnerait à mieux étudier l’évolution des pratiques alimentaires dans le contexte de crises (environnementale ou politico-militaire) et les stratégies locales et régionale d’adaptation ou de mitigation des crises. Elles permettent à aux populations du nord Cameroun de survivre et contiennent probablement (au moins en partie) les bases de la réussites des politiques.

3. What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?

- encourager le gouvernement à renforcer les capacités (humaine, matérielle et financière) des ministères en charge de l’agriculture et de la recherche. Après près de 20 ans sans recrutement, une opération spéciale de « Recrutement de 25000 jeunes diplômés dans la fonction publique » a été menée en 2011 au Cameroun. Elle semble salutaire pour le ministère de l’agriculture et l’enseignement supérieur. Bien que globalement insuffisante pour celui de la recherche. Le personnel de l’Institut de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement (le principal institut de recherche avec près de 2500 personnes) reste fortement en sous effectif (tant en qualité que quantité). D’autre recrutement seraient en cours.

- motiver le gouvernement à améliorer les conditions de rémunération des agents (cadres et autres) dans ces ministères en charge de l’agriculture, de la recherche. Comment retenir au Cameroun ou obtenir le meilleur d’un chercheur qui perçoit mensuellement 200000 à 300000 FCFA ($400 - $600) alors que son homologue de l’enseignement supérieur en a 2 à 3 fois plus et les cadres dans les institutions étrangère ou internationale en ont près de 3 à 10 fois plus ? L’âge de départ à la retraite (55 ans à la recherche contre 65 ans dans l’enseignement supérieure) est à harmoniser lorsqu’on a pas assez de professionnels dans la recherche et l’agriculture comme au Cameroun.

-inciter au renforcement (ou création) de cadres de concertation et d’actions synergiques entre les ministères de la recherche, de l’agriculture et celui de la santé et des enseignements (professionnelle ou universitaire).


Dear all,

First of all, we would like to thank the moderators for the important topic of this consultation which echoes many current initiatives in a constructive way. Action Against Hunger - ACF has really appreciated the quality of the FAO report "Synthesis of Guiding Principles on Agriculture Programing for Nutrition" and shares its recommendations. Maximising the nutritional impact of our interventions in food security and agriculture - as well as in other sectors - is a main challenge for us.

1. If you were designing an agricultural investment programme, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition?

Targeting the 5 key actions is a difficult task indeed when eventually a holistic approach, looking at the global coherence (particularly with regard to 'doing no harm') of the intervention, will be required. It's such a holistic approach which is needed around the following 5 main issues to make agriculture work for nutrition: 

- A better nutrition (and the protection of the nutritional status of the populations) as an explicit goal of programmes and policies in agriculture and nutritional outcome indicators to measure the long-term effects. To this end, ensuring the availability of nutritional statistics for agricultural decision-makers at all level, to be used as references, outcome indicators, etc., is highly needed.

- A better understanding and consideration of the nutritional situation and trends, the seasonality of under-nutrition, its causes, the identification of the most at-risk groups (the most vulnerableand the most affected by undernutrition), etc., by the 'programers' as well as the 'implementors' (agricultural extensionists for instance). This requires stronger knowledge in nutrition AND a closer coordination between sectors. To this regard, trainings of Ministry of Agriculture staffs on the importance of nutrition, the use of nutritional indicators, the links between agriculture and nutrition and the need for multisectoral approaches is a high priority. This should be done within the broader capacity building and strengthening of the national agricultural extension systems.

- A stronger attention to the nutritional value of crops  (vs their commercial value only), including biodiversity and local knowledge. This includes promoting diversification of crops and livelihoods, especially with diverse nutrient-rich food crops. A focus on post-harvest nutrient conservation is very much needed as well.

- A better understanding and systematic consideration of the key role women play at the same time in agricultural/livelihoods activities, household members diet and care practices. Ensure agricultural programs are actually benefiting and empowering women, mainstreaming gender issues in their different dimensions: availability of food, income, access to land, knowledge and inputs, not increasing time constraints, etc.

- Systematically questioning at each step of programme development what impacts, positive and negative, it can have on nutrition to adjust accordingly. In this regard, the IYCN Nutritional Impact Assessment Tool is a very practical tool to facilitate this process. Here again, support and inputs from nutrition experts is required.

Here we want to stress that there is a strong risk that stand-alone specific actions (targeted on one causal factor for instance) will not be the most effective to tackle undernutrition. 

2. To support the design and implementation of this programme, where would you like to see more research done, and why?

Clearly, there is a need to identify "what works" for improved nutrition and to experiment different approaches and programmes, to capitalize and scale-up the lessons learned at the national policy level.

3. What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?

This is a very important point. The SUN roadmap is actually quite light on this issue of 'nutrition sensitive agriculture' and needs to be strengthened. we want to suggest the production of a framework document or roadmap based on the 'guiding principles on Agriculture Programing for Nutrition' targeted at national government decision-makers. This should be done ideally within a high level, inclusive forum or platform to foster consensus and agree on priorities. 

To this regard, we would like to draw your attention on a recent ACF report on the main strengthes and weaknesses of the SUN implementation at country level (with two focus on Niger and Banglagesh), available: 
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. One of the recommendations is to work towards defining what 'nutrition-sensitive' interventions should look like and building consensus on that. "Determining what a mutlisectoral approach and effective 'nutrition sensitive' interventions should be is proving to be difficult at country level, which has led to calls for more efforts on evidence building to help determining what effective 'nutrition sensitive' interventions should be." (see page 63)

This should be done with a focus on different key sectors (obviously including agriculture but also education, social protection, water and sanitation, women empowerment, reproductive health and family planning).

We hope this will contribute to the discussion.

     Dear moderators and colleagues,


     There are so many great ideas and contributions to the forum that it has become extremely difficult to come up with original ones. I will second Professor James Levinson’s idea that the infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) program will be an excellent starting point considering the devastating effects of malnutrition in those vulnerable populations. With an agricultural focus on maternal, infant and young children nutrition on the first 1000 days, there is no doubt that the impact on nutrition in developing countries will be impressive. Empowering the women through education and agriculture with government and private policies will certainly reinforce the important role that women play in nutrition while at the same time maximizing the impact of agricultural activities on nutrition.

     The most frustrating aspect of designing a program is usually when the results of all those laborious researches are “lost in translation” during its implementation stage. To that effect, I would love to see more research done in behavioral science within both fields in order to come up with the most effective and sustainable methods to maximize the results of such projects.

     On the other hand, institutions could use a similar approach to the “conditional cash programs” in order to make country governments more accountable. One of the drawbacks to this method, however, relates to the particular characteristics of those specific countries which may not be amenable to a “one size fits all” formula. Therefore, it would simply be fair to apply the sanctions only after the program has been tailored and individualized for each country government.

Julien Sanon

I will give a brief on sensitive food and making Agriculture work. and a summary of Nutrition.

However in my submission to ICN's call for Papers, I will give my full research report.

Food is a daily consumptions by man to live and continue his existence on earth in other words food is life and it reqires value for existence.

Sensitive food can be described as high calorie high value food. This has more vitamin content and has varoius functions that enables proper growth and gives required vitamin content for the reqired age, group or people..

Making Agriculture work for Nutrition is the science of Producing Adequate foods of value, high in vitamin content, iron, energy and suitable for consumption for the entire population at affordable price and available within the reach of the population.

The definition of value, quality and affordability is the challenge we face. This makes us to go futher to How and What should be done.

There is need to do an assesment of daily vitamins requirements, of each group and the science of producing suitable food for the population.

This will be properly stated in submision to ICN call.

There is need also to look into GMOs (Genetically modified foods and there vitamin content and ask if GMOs are a sustainable substitute. (Our research institutes.)

There is need to evaluate past and present interventions, to this I will like to use statistical datas in finding out mordern challenges of todays Agriculture and Nutritional values.





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.  

There is need for research and advocacy on good agricultural practices geared towards sustainable agriculture. Pre-harvest conditions of food crops have direct impact on the nutritional and overall quality of harvested foods. Toxins accumulated in crops as a result of irrigation using water with high levels of salts like Chloride and Sodium manifest on leaves and fruits as burns and discolorations reducing expected yield and market value. Repeated irrigation results into leaching of minerals causing a pile up in the lower soils. With the increasing shortage of safe water for domestic use and agriculture globally coupled with the ever increasing urban population and poor sewage management especially in the developing countries, sewage water is being used for irrigation purposes Scott et al (2004). It is estimated by the IRC 2005 report “Wastewater irrigation: sewage waters a tenth of world’s crops“ that one tenth of world food is produced using sewage water. Heavy metals and bacteria absorbed by plants end up in plates with adverse health implications on the consumers.

Farmers in the rural should be sensitized on the need for using mild chemicals by hazard as classified by the World Health Organization, with shorter pre harvest intervals and persistence for pest and disease control. An integrated approach in pest and disease management involving biological, mechanical and chemicals as the very last resort has proved to be workable and cost effective.

Africa experiences huge postharvest losses caused by deterioration and rotting of fresh farm produces, which implies that the final product reaching the consumer is nutritionally flat. Temperature directly affects rate of respiration of the products and hence deterioration, rotting and reduced shelf life. In most developing countries it is difficult to talk about food nutrition before first addressing food shortage. A number of factors ranging from changing climatic variables, scarcity of resources and knowledge, insistence on traditional livelihoods to the expense of modern trends in agriculture among others factors have contributed to this phenomenon.

Awareness campaigns on hygienic handling of foods at all levels of production is key in ensuring global food safety.

Investment by stakeholders and governments in knowledge and infrastructure in cold chain management, waste water recycling, advocacy and adoption of resistant crop varieties to harsh climate, pests and diseases will guarantee food availability and enhanced nutrition at all times.


Scott, C. ; Faruqui, N.I. and Raschid, L. (eds) (2004). Wastewater use in irrigated agriculture: confronting the livelihood and environmental realities. Wallingford, UK: CAB International; Ottawa, Canada, IDRC; Colombo, Sri Lanka, IWMI. - 208 p. - ISBN 0851998232


Dear colleagues,

I am happy that FSN has focused on this very important subject and received very valuable suggestions and solutions to reduce hunger, malnutrition, poverty and suicides while improving access to nutritious food, purchasing power, net incomes and effects of climate change.  

Quoting Patrick Webb, Director, Global Nutrition CRSP – Asia and Dean, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, United States


“There is agreement internationally that evidence - based programming at scale is possible, ‘things that work’, to improve nutrition. It’s no more pilots and efficacy trials but an understanding of delivery, ‘what works at large scale in practice - with a big focus on costs and effectiveness’, integrated sustainable agriculture for the production of safe and nutritious food. The largest gap is in, ‘knowledge of how best to design and implement multi-sector, integrated programs at scale that combine the positive impacts of integrated agriculture, producing nutritious and healthy food and managed through the whole value chain’. The CGIAR (CRP4) and USAID’s Global Nutrition CRSP are focused on this and where the FTF’s research agenda is expected to play an important role in advocating for and sustaining, this kind of research globally”. 

I am looking forward to CFS taking forward most of the suggestions and solutions given, thus ensuring the long term sustainability of the resource poor rural communities/ smallholder producers.

Warm regards



We need to educate the farmers on how they can obtain and eat nutritious foods without us providing these foods.

Farmers should be taught on locally available nutritious foods and be able to sustain themselves once we leave the community, also considering the nutritious needs of each age group.

Daniel Adotu