Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

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    • In addition to Availability, Access etc - Awareness is important. Technical and nutritional.
      Inequality exists even in terms of Awareness. Right knowledge can help to reduce the consequences of inequality in
      Access and Affordability in terms of nutritional outcomes.
      Dr.Ms Mahtab S. Bamji,
      INSA Emeritus Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust, Hyderabad
      (Director Grade Scientist, Retd.National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India
    • For nutrition security there has to be awareness and access at affordable cost to food security (balanced diet and right feeding practices for infants and children), safe drinking water and disease free environment and health care outreach. Over the past decade we have been promoting awareness on health, food and nutrition issues, specifically targeting pregnant women, and mothers with 6 to 24 months old children in villages of Medak district, Telangana state of South India. Other inputs are: homestead gardens with micronutrient dense vegetables and fruits, backyard poultry with high egg-yielding birds, and food processing, preparation of ready to cook complementary food. Impact is assessed through KAP surveys of mothers initially and end-line, acceptance of crop diversification, and BY poultry, and improvement in family diet. Teaching aids like simple pamphlets in local language Telugu helped during the pandemic when centralised meetings could not be held. Results are very encouraging. The work is discussed in the attached paper.

    • Cereal-based diets of the poor are qualitatively deficient in micronutrients-vitamins and minerals due to low intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes and foods of animal origin. Consumption of nutritious millets has also come down in India.  Calorie sufficiency may ensure protein sufficiency, (though not protein quality), but it does not ensure adequacy of micronutrients. For almost 2 decades, The Dangoria Charitable Trust has been experimenting with Nutritionally sensitive and environmentally sustainable agriculture for improving food and nutrition security in villages of Medak district in the South Indian state of Telangana. With advocacy, education and training, even small and marginal farmers can be persuaded to diversify from traditional crops like paddy and sugarcane to growing micronutrient dense vegetables and fruits,  The package of interventions included free distribution of good quality seeds and saplings of a variety of micronutrient dense vegetables and fruits with technical know-how and do hohw. Women raised saplings of plants like moringa, curry leaves, creeper spinach ( basilla alba) which were purchased from them for distribution. Green methods of farming like vermicopositing and botanical pesticides like neem seed decoction and chilli garlic decoction were also introduced. Families with pregnant women and 6 to 24 months old children were specifically targeted.Robust health and nutrition education,( behaviour change communication) particularly of pregnant  women and mothers of preschool children was a very important part of the strategy. Knowledge attitude and practice practi surveys of mothers with children under 2 years of age were done initially and endline to examine the impact on  mothers' understanding. Family diet surveys were also done

      There was a remarkable increase in families growing vegetables and fruits following intervention.. Household consumption of vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables also increased significantly., and Most importantly mothers' knowledge of food and nutrition, including  infant and child feeding practices, hygiene and common infectious diseases, their causes and management showed remarkable increase.

      Backyard poultry with few high egg-yielding birds were sold to the families.This also significantly improved household egg consumption.

      For best results technological engineering should be combined with social engineering. Families were encouraged to consume home-grown foods rather than sell it. Horticulture intervention may meet family's demand for  vegetables, but that will not be sufficient to combat hidden hunger. A more comprehensive package including legumes, millets and animal foods would be necessary.

      Homestead production has a special role in the present corona pandemic where mobility and transport are affected. Government and agriculture extension workers should be sensitised for such a strategy.

      See the attached publications

      Dr.Ms Mahtab S. Bamji,
      INSA Emeritus  Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust,Hyderabad
      (Director Grade Scientist, Retd.National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India)
      Address for correspondence: 211, Sri Dattasai Apartments, RTC Cross Rds, Hyderabad, 500020
      Rural Centre: Dangoria Charitable Trust Hospital, Village Narsapur, Medak District,
      Andhra Pradesh .,502313
      Web site:

    • The bane of extreme poverty is extreme malnutrition and consequently reduced productivity and earning capacity. Hence, efforts to increase food and nutrition security at individual, household and village ( local) level by leveraging agriculture to nutrition will also impact productivity and poverty.

      To stimulate the debate, we would be grateful if you could share your experience and views on the questions below:

      1. Under what conditions can agriculture succeed in lifting people out of extreme poverty? Particularly those households with limited access to productive resources.

      Agriculture is one of the most dangerous professions. The farmer is damned if he produces less and damned if he produces more resulting in glut and price crash.  More emphasis on research on making farming resource- efficient and strong technological support  to the famers in terms of planning cropping pattern, use of resources, and technological intervention etc along with behavioural change communication are needed to maximise output input ratio. The difference in productivity of China Vs India is a case in point.

      Promotion of alternative livestock and forest-based activities, besides artisanal and other skills among those with limited access to productive resource is very necessary..

      1. What is the role of ensuring more sustainable natural resource management in supporting the eradication of extreme poverty?

      Efficient natural resource management is extremely important to ensure cost-effective production. This involves innovative research and technology transfer

      1. Can those without the opportunities to pursue agricultural production and to access resources such as fish, forests and livestock find pathways out of extreme poverty through these sectors?

      Development of non-farm skills like, handicraft and artisanal skills can be very helpful in employment generation. There is considerable demand but paucity of skilled artisans in rural as well as urban areas.

      1. What set of policies are necessary to address issues connecting food security and extreme poverty eradication in rural areas?
      • With almost 50% of the population dependent on agriculture for livelihood, its importance should be recognised while making budgetary allocations
      • Importance of agriculture for food and nutrition security besides income and export should be realised. Agriculture should be nutritionally sensitive  besides being environmentally sustainable. This needs change of mindset and research orientation, and technology transfer.
      • While free water and power result in wastage some support in terms of crop insurance is needed as safety net. Some subsidy in terms of fertilisers and pesticides, drip irrigation etc may be needed with proper guidance about their use and administrative efficiency.
      • There should be a mechanism for continuing education of extension workers to update their knowledge and skills. This will facilitate more effective technology transfer through extension workers who interact with the farmers
      • Governments should not be misled by misguided opposition to technologies like GM crops. Health and environmental safety can be ensured through appropriate legislation. At least field trials should be allowed.
      • Agriculture cannot be profitable if there is 30-40% wastage of farm produce in India. Proper storage, cold chain and food processing should receive high priority. Food processing can also generate employment.
      • To make agriculture more scientific, youth should be trained through setting up of Agriculture training institutes.
      1. Can you share any examples of experiences that succeeded in reducing (or eradicating) extreme poverty through an agricultural pathway?

      For the past several years we have been working towards leveraging agriculture for nutrition security, while being mindful of better environment.  We (The Dangoria Charitable Trust, Hyderabad, India)  are  promoting crop diversification from water guzzling crops like paddy and sugar cane to cultivation of  micronutrient-rich, vegetables and fruits,  millets and legumes in villages of the Medak district of the state of Telangana in India . This approach would improve dietary access to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) which are deficient in Indian diets (hidden hunger), besides saving water. While we do not go totally organic, we are introducing green methods of farming like vermicomposting, botanical pesticides and methods of water conservation. We have also introduced backyard poultry with high egg –yielding birds. 

      Household diet surveys show that while homestead (near the home or in the farm) gardening increases the frequency and per capita quantity of consumption of green leafy vegetables; despite nutrition education, 25-50% of other vegetables are sold. Home-grown vegetables have replaced what was purchased from the market. As we have said in one of our publications “Economic compulsion outweighs nutritional wisdom”. However, homestead gardening does protect against reduction in vegetables consumption due to high market price. Back-yard poultry with high egg yielding breeds significantly increases household egg consumption. Esp since only few birds are given. Families buy 3 birds and one male or female bird is given free as incentive.

      Combination of  strategies to reduce the input cost with greater productivity of agriculture,  and alternative livelihood opportunities through skill development are very  important. 

    • The gender specific roles where women lose out, are deeply entrenched in the mindset of both women and men.

      In one interaction with children in a rural school we asked the girls what they do when they go home? They replied, describing different household tasks like sweeping, fetching water, helping with cooking etc. When asked what their brothers do, the replies were: they go out and play, watch television, study etc. When asked why the brothers can't help with household tasks- there were surprise and blank looks. Some said the mother does not ask them ( brothers). With this discussion we tried to get them thinking on unequal gender roles. One teacher was unhappy with us for putting ideas in the minds of girls who are perfectly happy doing what they are. Especially since now they even go to school.

      On other occasions when women are asked about what happens at dinner time and whether they eat with the rest of the family, the answer is invariably- they eat last and if there is insufficient food left they cook some more-( never done). Women eat last and often the least, but see nothing wrong with this situation.

      There has to be change in mindset and for that, right from primary school, education should include the subject of gender equality.

      The other aspects are: skill development; price tag on household work and that getting reflected in national statistics when women are classified as home-makers; equality of daily wages and many others.

    • 1) To what extent do you think should AEAS be involved in broader development issues, going beyond providing and facilitating access to knowledge, information and technologies?

      Response: It will certainly be nice if AEAS can go beyond facilitating access to knowledge, information and technologies to issues such as sensitivity to gender and nutrition. However with the current syllabus of for training agriculture extension workers this may not be possible. A team of AE workers to include a social scientist in the team would help. Extension workers as it is have enough on their hands and may not be able to cope with more. Some sensitisation would help.    

      2) What specific challenges have you encountered that hinder AEAS from addressing gender inequalities and promoting nutrition?

      Response:  In India as well as perhaps other countries, human nutrition is not taught as a separate subject. In earlier years this subject was included. But now it is not. Consequently, the nutrition knowledge of agriculture scientists in general, (including the extension workers) is rather poor. They are unable to appreciate the need of making cropping pattern nutritionally sensitive and environmentally sustainable. Also their mind set tends to be male centric and women are invariably left out of extension activities. This is now to some extent changing in India.

      3) Do you know any examples of AEAS successfully addressing gender inequalities and supporting improved nutrition outcomes? What factors, including specific approaches and tools, led to success?

      For last over 20 years, the respondent (a nutrition scientist) is associated in honorary capacity with Dangoria Charitable Trust, - a non profit NGO, and  is working in the villages of Medak district of the South Indian state of Telangana (previously, Andhra Pradesh), on issues of health, nutrition, gender and livelihood. Our effort has been to persuade small and marginal farmers (mostly latter) to divert a small piece of their land to growing nutritionally important crops like vegetables (including green leafy vegetables), fruits, pulses and millets. Organic methods like vermi composting and use of botanical pesticides and water conservation are taught. Health, nutrition, sanitation education for behavioural change are important part of our effort since no technology can succeed without social engineering. Though women are the major target, family approach is used. To start with only men used to come for centralised training. But now we send invitation letters in the name of the women and let them bring their husbands. Even illiterate women enjoy getting letters in their name and get someone to read them out to them. This plus improved transportation from villages by way of shared auto rickshaws , and now mobile phones (which most women possess) has made a vast difference and now women come, often with their children. Apart from agriculture related technologies, cooking demos with nutrition education form part of both centralised as well as decentralised hands on training. DCT has a food processing centre and value addition to farm produce is also taught. (

      Impact is assessed through acceptance of technologies, Knowledge, Attitude, Practice (KAP) surveys and household food consumption surveys done initially and finally. Impact on KAP is very good. Food consumption pattern of the household shows significant increase in the consumption of GLV, but not the other vegetables. 25-50% of home-grown vegetables are sold due to high market price, and home grown veggies (other than GLV) replace what is normally purchased from the market. However in the non-intervention villages, there is significant decline in the consumption of vegetables, suggesting that the home- grown vegetables, at least prevent the slide in vegetable consumption due to price rise.

      Back yard poultry with high egg-yielding breeds have improved household egg consumption markedly.

      Our attempt has been to promote two ways agriculture - keep growing crops like paddy and sugar cane which they grow for income, but also develop some homestead gardens on small patches of quarter acre or less for nutrition gardens. Home consumption rather than marketing is the mantra. BYP needs very little space or investment and recurring cost.

      See the following publications:

      1. Bamji MS, Murty PVVS, Vishnuvardhan Rao M, Satyanarayana G. With technical support from  N.Venkateshan. Diversification from agriculture to nutritionally and environmentally promotive horticulture in a dry-land area. Sight and Life, 25: 38-42, (2011)
      2. Murty PVVS, Vishnuvaradhan Rao, Bamji MS. Impact of enriching the diet of women and children through health and nutrition education, introduction of homestead gardens and backyard poultry in rural India. Agric. Res. 5(2)210-217 (2016).

      4) What do you think the role and main activities should be of a global forum such as the GFRAS Nutrition Working Group in helping AEAS to become more gender-sensitive and able to contribute to improved nutrition?

      GFRAS should continue to emphasise that agriculture is not only for income and export but also to ensure household and individual food security. Insist on syllabus of agriculture degree to have a course in human nutrition and importance of gender sensitivity. Both farmers and farm women need training in marketing skills. For pull towards profitable marketing role of middle man should be reduced and remunerative procurement price should be given. As it is farmer is hit if she/he produces more and there is glut or produces less. Cost of production has gone up. Resistance to biotechnology including genetic engineering and GM foods should go.

    • Dear FSN Forum

      Attached please find the PDFdocument with my comments, using note tool. Will be obliged if you can load it. Thanks.

      Dr. Ms Mahtab S. Bamji,

      INSA Emeritus Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust, Hyderabad


      1. Does the work programme present a compelling vision for enabling strategic interaction and mutual support across existing initiatives, platforms, forums and programmes, given the stipulation of Res 70/259 that the Decade should be organized with existing institutions and available resources?

      To some extent. See comments on the document and under 5.

      2. What are your general comments to help strengthen the presented elements of the first draft work programme of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition?

      See comments on the document and under 5.

      3. Do you feel you can contribute to the success of the Nutrition Decade or align yourself with the proposed range of action areas?

      May be. Being 82 years old retired woman scientist who is now engaged in science and society related programmes with nutrition as focus in the villages of Medak district of the state of Telangana, I have some limitations.

      4. How could this draft work programme be improved to promote collective action to achieve the transformational change called for by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ICN2 outcomes? What is missing?

      Interdepartmental convergence between food, health, water, environment needs to be emphasised for all countries.

      5. Do you have specific comments on the section on accountability and shared learning?

      (i)  There should be an executive summary clearly stating the fact that Nutrition security goes beyond food security - though food security is very important. For Nutrition security, there has to be Awareness and Access at Affordable cost to food security, safe drinking water, disease-free environment and health care outreach. This will take care of Absorption. There has to be convergence between these. As it is in India at least, the departments concerned with each of these work in silos.

      (ii) The earlier sections prior to Action Areas are rather vague and verbose. See some comments on the manuscript.

      (iii) The economic cost of malnutrition, particularly micronutrient deficiencies- the hidden hunger, to a nation needs to be emphasised. Nutrition should be a parameter for judging national development and not just economic parameters like GDP.

      (iv) Nutrition should not be subsumed under health. Health often stops at immunisation, oral rehydration etc. Agenda should always be Health, Food  and Nutrition. In India except once, when Dr. Manmohan Singh called malnutrition “a curse”, nutrition never gets mentioned in budgets. This point should be emphasised clearly.

      (v) Nutrition should be included as a subject in the professional courses like health and agriculture. As it is the knowledge of physicians and other health workers and agriculture scientists, extension workers is very poor. Latter will help to leverage nutrition into agriculture.

      (vi) WTO should bring subsidies relevant to poor in developing countries, in green box. Rich farmers are getting huge subsidies in developed countries.

      (vii) Nutrition monitoring and surveillance is mentioned in the table but not so clearly in the text. This is important.

      (viii) Table 1 only lists items related to food security. No mention is made of ensuring safe drinking water, disease free environment and access to affordable health care. These are very important.

      (ix) Indiscriminate use of antibiotics (including the last resort new  ones) in animal husbandry and fishery is a great threat to development of resistance to  antibiotics in humans and livestock. This point should be brought out clearly.

    • Dear Moderator

      I am sorry for being late in responding. The persistent problem of undernutrition and growing problem of obesity etc in India is a matter of great concern. The latter has also its roots in foetal undernourishment.

      Since nutrition security goes beyond food security and demands safe environment, drinking water and women's empowerment, there has to be synergy between departments/ministries of agriculture, rural development, women and child development, human resource development etc. As mentioned by Dr. KV Peter in his communication from India ( name not mentioned in the list), India has initiated programmes of pharmaceutical supplementation ( iron folic acid, vitamin A) and supplementary feeding to preschool and school children, Impact has been there but not satisfactory. Fortification of salt with iodine is a success story, and this approach has to be enlarged to include double fortified salt with iron and iodine, and other foods like wheat and rice ( minerals and B- vitamins) and milk ( vitamins A and D). This is being considered

      The current mantra on the food front is dietary diversification by  Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition Security ( LANS). We are working on nutritionally promotive and environmentally sustainable agriculture, in villages of Medak district of the South Indian State of Telangana with encouraging results ( published) despite the reluctance of  small and marginal farmers to diversify from traditional crops like  paddy and sugar cane to horticulture, legumes and millets. 

      Dr.Ms Mahtab S. Bamji,
      INSA Emeritus  Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust,Hyderabad
      (Director Grade Scientist, Retd.National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India)

      Rural Centre: Dangoria Charitable Trust Hospital, Village Narsapur, Medak District,
      Andhra Pradesh,502313

    • Apart from technological intervention, education of women for behavioural change is extremely important. In that context, I would like to share the paper on 'Impact of Enriching the Diet of Women and Children through Health and Nutrition Education, Introduction of Homestead Gardens and Backyard Poultry in Rural India' published in Agriculture Research. Here we have targeted pregnant women and mothers with 6-24 months old children registered at Anganwadis in India.

      Dr Ms Mahtab S. Bamji
      INSA Emeritus Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust, Hyderabad & Director Grade Scientist, Retd.National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, India.

    • Dear all
      The issue of agriculture for ensuring nutrition security is very important.  The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) discussed the issue of "Nutrition security for India: issues and the way forward" in a sympsoum held held on August 3,4, 2009. Based on the presentations and subsequent extensive discussion among fellows and other experts, a position paper was prepared. I am reproducing below the recommendations relevant to agriculture.
      Increased Availability and Access to Variety of Foods

      1. Environmentally sustainable, nutrition oriented cropping pattern, using a blend of time-tested conventional and new technologies with appropriate safety checks. – Awareness and education of agriculture professionals at all levels and community–Ministry of agriculture (MOA), ICAR, State agriculture universities, MI&B.
      2. House-hold food and nutrition security through decentralised, nutritionally oriented cropping pattern, homestead production of nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, and animal products–poultry, dairy, fishery. Home grown food can ensure livelihood security, reliable and affordable food security and reduce rural urban and gender divide. - Awareness and education of agriculture professionals at all levels–MOA, ICAR, State agriculture universities, I&B.
      3. Nutrition dimension should be main-streamed into national missions like Horticulture, Food security, NREGA and Rural Health Mission, with defined input and output parameters for monitoring. NREG scheme should be well structured to create assets that would help ecology and nutrition and develop skills. S&T institutions should be involved in its execution. –MOA, Ministry of rural development (MRD), MOH.
      4. Orphan crops like millets should be revived. Increase in production of pulses should receive high priority. –MOA, ICAR, State agriculture universities, MI&B.
      5. Efforts need to be made to bridge the gap between actual and potential productivity of all crops. –MOA, ICAR, State agriculture universities, MI&B.
      6. Community gene, seed, grain and water banks, and crop livestock integrated farming will enhance nutrition security in dry land areas. – Agriculture extension, MOA, ICAR, State agriculture universities.  
      7. Post harvest technologies including establishment of modern silos, and food processing for value addition should receive high priority to prevent wastage of farm produce and generate employment. –MOA, MRD, Ministry of food processing industries (MFPI).
      8. Public distribution system should be strengthened and basket of commodities increased to include millets, pulse and oils. –Ministry of civil supplies.
      9. Export of Soya bean products should be stopped till availability of other pulses improves. Soya bean can be used to fortify wheat flour and other vehicles. - MOA, MFPI, Civil supplies.

      Subsequent to publication of this paper, a more focused paper entitled "Micronutrient security for India- priorities for research and action" Both these papers are also available on INSA web site.

      Hope this information is useful

      Mahtab S. Bamji
      INSA Hon.Scientist, Dangoria Charitable Trust,Hyderabad
      Address for correspondence: 211, Sri Dattasai Apartments, RTC Cross Rds, Hyderabad, 500020