Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Mr. Mebit Kebede

Organization: Jhpiego Ethiopia
Country: Ethiopia
Field(s) of expertise:
I am working on:

Jhpiego Ethiopia in the project Empowering New generation to Improve Nutrition and Economic Opportunity(ENGINE), USAID funded Project in a position of Pre-service education advisor for nutrition

Mebit Kebede Tariku: An Ethiopian national, he has been working for more than 20 years on different positions both for government and non-government organizations. He currently holds a position of Pre-service Education Advisor for Nutrition for Jhpiego Ethiopia. He previously worked as Regional Economic Strengthening officer (ChildFund Ethiopia), Zonal Livelihood Coordinator (Land O’lakes Ethiopia), Operational Area Coordinator (DAI/USAID Urban garden program) and Supervisory Trainers (ECIAfrica/USAID Urban Garden Program). All his NGO experiences are for USAID funded nutrition sensitive projects. He also worked for government organizations in a position of senior instructor for Agricultural technical vocational education training college, district agriculture office head, team leader and expert. His experiences are mainly focused on the areas Nutrition and food security, education, Economic strengthening and Livelihood.

He holds a B.SC degree in plant science from Haramaya University, the then Alemaya University of Agriculture, M.Sc. degree specialized in soil science from the same university and Master of Public health from University of Gondar, both in Ethiopia.

This member contributed to:

    • Dear Facilitators,

      The issue you raised is very important and timely which we must share our exprience to bring any value chain aproach to be nutrition sensitive. I would like to share those opportunities and challeges on VC approaches to be nutrition sensitive. I also attached 2020 conference paper 4 on value chain for nutrition for further reference.

      Challenges and opportunities in developing VC to be more nutrition sensitive.

      Value chain concepts and approaches are versatile to be used to address different goals if properly designed. Since the problem of malnutrition is multifaceted, its solution is also multi-sectoral in which it needs coordination of different actors along the value chain to achieve nutritional goal of the value chain intervention. I would like to list the following opportunities to be considered while developing value chains to be nutrition sensitive:

      · By its own nature agriculture value chain analysis can help to address the issue of food availability and accessibility which are pivotal steps to improvement on nutritional status of the community. The value chain approaches can answer the question of why foods are not available in a specific community and it has also potential to solve the problem by identifying the root causes for why food is not available and accessible to that specific community.

      · Value chain approaches have also potential to identify why certain nutritious food are less affordable than others and propose solution to make them more affordable to vulnerable group of the community

      · Value chain approaches have also a potential to identify where and how the nutrient quality of the food changes throughout the chain and how nutrient losses can be prevented

      · It has also a potential to increase demand and acceptability of nutritious food for the poor because it incorporates the notion of value from consumers perspective

      · Value chains do have a cross-sectoral nature which has a potential to coordinate actions and actors from farm to fork. Value chain approaches can thus be used to identify and engage the sectors that need to be involved to improve the coordination between agriculture and nutrition.

      The common challenges of most value chain approaches to nutrition

      · The focus of value chain so far has been on adding value in the chain to create value to the value chain actors neglecting the poor consumers

      · “Value” the attention is mostly given to economic value

      · The focus on single food commodity neglecting dietary diversity

      · The focus on competitive markets leaves out other markets.

      · Most value chain approaches do not start with explicit nutrition goal

      · Nutrition problems are not clearly defined within the value chain approach

      · In most value chain program, they always consider only economic value. Nutrition value is always missed.


    • Dear Facilitators,

      I would like to share my experience and though focusing on question # 4, what is the link between dietary diversity, women’s engagement with agriculture, and access to ecosystem services?

      As we all know, agricultural livelihoods affect nutrition of individual household members through multiple pathways and interactions. Among the multiple pathways, the following three pathways in particular are viewed as potentially promising entry points for improving nutritional status of smallholder household members through enhancing diet quality:

      • Food production (Diversifying production to include nutritious fruits, vegetables and animal products)
      • Agricultural income (Improving smallholder commercialization to generate income to purchase a healthier diet)
      • Women’s empowerment including the decision-making power related to income, time, labor, assets, and knowledge or preferences of female which enable them to improve their purchasing decisions, healthcare decisions, family planning decisions, and spousal communication. Since this discussion is focused on transforming gender relations in agriculture through women’s empowerment, let me focus only on the role of the third pathways to improve household dietary diversity score (HDDS) based on evidence.

      A study conducted by Jenifer Coates and Tina Galante  in Ethiopia  to assess production diversity and women empowerment revealed that for male headed households, the result shows that each 1, 000 birr of additional agricultural income was associated with 0.04 food group increase in HDDS (p<0.01). The coefficient on the interaction of female households headship with total agricultural income was significantly positive, at 0.07, meaning agricultural commercialization had a larger effect on household dietary diversity for female headed household (P<0.010) .

      The same study also disclosed that female asset ownership and literacy were much stronger and significantly associated with dietary diversity than were agricultural income or production diversity. Female assets ownership was associated with a significantly higher probability of the consumption of roots, vegetables, oils/fat, sugar/honey, and meat (all significant at P<0.05, or less) whereas female literacy was only found to be significantly associated with a 48% increase in pulse consumption (P<0.05)

      Impact Assessment of Yekokeb Berhan Program (USAID Funded Program implemented in Ethiopia) also revealed that the proportion of target beneficiaries (mostly female household head) that eat three plus meals per day has increased from 49% at baseline to over 78%, while non-target beneficiaries were more likely to have only two meals per day.

      These findings tell us agriculture programs that empower women and enable them to have greater control over asset and other decision-making will likely see improved dietary diversity. Therefore to enable women in South Asia to manage the competing pressures of agriculture, childcare and household responsibilities to improve household wellbeing and nutrition, programs and policies better to be designed to improve Economic opportunities of women focusing on:

      • Improving women’s access to financial services
      • Promoting a savings culture
      • Building women’s capacity to better select and manage their economic enterprises and resources
      • Increasing women’s incomes and ability to create assets
    • Dear members,

      Taking this opportunity, I would like to say thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts for our on- line discussion on the current burning issue “Integrating nutrition into the curricula of agriculture education institutions: Strengthening human capacity to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture” as one of the nutrition sensitive intervention for the reduction of double burden of malnutrition in our globe. 

      In my opinion, the discussion was fruitful. The discussion forum brought about 31 professionals (agricultural university lecturers, project managers, consultants and researchers) from 17 countries around the world on one table to discuss and share their experience on how to integrate nutrition in to the curricula of agricultural education.

       If I am not mistaken, all participants of the discussion agreed synonymously that integration of nutrition in to agriculture curriculum is a timely agenda and fully justifiable.  This tells me that how much the issue we have been discussed for about two weeks is relevant and the UN agencies particularly FAO will have its homework to bring the issue to the attention of policy makers and politicians.

      Though all participants agreed with the basic ideas, modalities or things to be considered on how to integrate nutrition in to curricula of agriculture education were forwarded as a concern. As a concluding remark of the discussion, I have tried to summarize ideas forwarded from participants based on leading questions as follows:

      1.       Role of Agriculture college: Agricultural colleges/higher institutions can play an important role in promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture through several mechanisms:

      • Provide a key entry point where nutrition-sensitive agriculture can be incorporated into curricula agricultural education
      • Designing programs that incorporate nutrition interventions tailored to goals and outcomes to reduce prevalence of malnutrition
      • Support nutrition-sensitive interventions through the training of agricultural extension agents which they are currently serving the community
      • Agricultural colleges are also critical institutions whereby nutrition-sensitive agricultural approaches can be integrated into multiple programs and disciplines and facilitate collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and projects.
      • Agricultural colleges are also capable of promoting nutrition-sensitive agriculture through policy-relevant research, dissemination of results, and rigorous impact evaluations
      • Create enabling environment to the agriculture sector to design nutrition-sensitive agriculture strategy to be incorporated into existing agricultural policies and extension systems.

      2.       What is meant by “integrating nutrition into the curriculum”?

      • When we say “integration” it does not mean that we are focusing only on distribution of nutrition core competencies across existing core subjects rather we better work to bring nutrition as a separate course for agricultural graduates. But until condition allows to bring nutrition as a separate course for agricultural students, it is also advisable to start by stream lining nutrition core competencies across existing core subjects of the existing agricultural curriculum.

      3.       What are the absolutely essential competencies of "nutrition" to include in the training of agricultural workers?

      • The anticipated nutrition syllabus  for agriculture students is better to address knowledge, skill and attitude competency  domains
      • Its content should be designed with practical knowledge and hands-on training specifically suited to students so they know how to produce and access nutritious foods, improve eating behavior, enhance nutritional status and prevent chronic diseases with better nutrition and food consumption
      • It should be developed through careful synchronization with the notion of meeting the nutritional knowledge gaps of agricultural college graduates in order to contribute to improve nutrition outcomes in the community
      • Contents of teaching curricular be country or region-specific depending on the nation nutrition strategy
      • The curriculum to contain detailed information on all stages of the nutritional chain: food production, processing, storage, preparation, to consumption.

      4.       What is expected to result from this extra curriculum element? Or how do we expect graduates (i.e. agricultural workers) to use the new knowledge and skills in their daily work?

      • Integrating nutrition core competencies with undergraduate agricultural programs will not only have the highest potential to promote nutrition-sensitive production at the community level, but also to increase the effort of the agriculture sector—which is imperative to contribute to the national nutrition agenda.

      5.       Other consideration

      • Relevant stakeholders should be consulted and be active participants during  identification of nutrition core competencies as well integration of nutrition in to the curricula of agriculture education
      • Integration of nutrition in to the curricula of agriculture education should be in line with the national nutrition strategy
      • In the rural communities, the community-based informal education and curriculum-based formal education are two intersecting knowledge spheres, which can become important components to increase food literacy
      • It is also important that curricula/syllabi at all level of education from primary through secondary and tertiary level (s) should be sensitized with the lenses of nutrition.
      • Farmer Field Schools approach of FAO  can be  used to promote nutrition sensitive agriculture in the farming community

      Hope we all will receive the final proceedings from the global forum on food security and nutrition team in the near future. We encourage you to keep checking the resource section of this discussion for any updates.

      Many thanks,

      Mebit Kebede

    • Dear members,

      During the course of our online discussion, I have seen that many critical issues have been raised to be considered when integrating nutrition within the curricula of agriculture education. From all discussion ideas, I understand that almost all participants agreed that integrating nutrition in to the curricula of agriculture education is of paramount importance. The issue mostly raised is the modality on how to integrate it.

      I would like also to acknowledge those of you who raised issues to be considered while integrating nutrition in to curricula of agriculture. Some of the ideas forwarded with questions need further clarification. I would like to forward my opinion on the following issues:

      1. To what extent will changes in curricula have an influence on agricultural practices, especially in rural Africa where agriculture is mostly small-scale and family oriented? This issue is raised intentionally to reflect the idea that incorporation of nutrition sensitive agriculture in Africa is more effective if we integrate into curriculum at all levels of informal and formal education. Partially I agree with this idea. Partially because if we incorporate nutrition at all level it will be more effective, but this does not mean that agricultural graduates from higher institutions equipped with nutrition competency will be more practical only in societies with large-scale agricultural production. How many agricultural graduates in Africa are employed for large scale agricultural production? As far as I know (from Ethiopian experience) almost all agricultural graduates are employed for government organizations to deliver extension services to the community with family farms. But the extension service provided by agricultural professionals is focused only to improve agricultural production and productivity. Albeit improving productivity (increase availability) is one of the four pillars for food security, it does not give guarantee for nutrition security. That is why we are saying promotion of nutrition sensitive agriculture is crucial. Therefore, agricultural professional with basic nutrition knowledge working with the community (family farms) will be responsible to promote nutrition sensitive agriculture with other agricultural extension services. This can be effective like other agricultural extension system implemented in developing countries.

      2. How relevant is the inclusion of nutrition-sensitive agriculture in the curricula of colleges and universities, especially in countries where extension services have been privatized? I would like to reflect my idea on this issue by forwarding a question: Do you mean that there is a country in which agricultural extension system is fully privatized? If yes, what does the national nutrition strategy of that country say? Whenever we are talking about integration of nutrition in to the curricula of agriculture education basically we should consider the nutrition strategy of the country. The other most important point we should consider is that when we proposed this issue as a discussion point this does not mean that we will have uniform nutrition competencies to be integrated in to the curricula of agriculture education all over the world.

      In agriculture private farms, are we appreciating mono-cropping only for their economic returns? I recommend all members to read the attached document “Value chain for nutrition”.

      I also understand that in countries like India, there is experience of integrating nutrition in to curricula of agriculture. It would be good if those of you who do have such experiences could share them based on each leading questions before the closure of the discussion.

      Thank you,


    • Dear Members,

      First of all, I appreciate all your genuine ideas, experiences and views forwarded for online discussion on the aforementioned topics.

      I have tried to go through with all your ideas and I am very happy to see almost all of you are supporting the ideas of integrating  nutrition in to the curricula of agricultural education institutions. I would like also to appreciate those of you who contributed supporting documents in the areas of nutrition agriculture linkage focusing on human resource development in the areas of nutrition sensitive agriculture.

      I want to quote one of our colleagues' ideas mentioning the importance of integrating nutrition in the curricula of agriculture as "I think now it becomes clear that unless agriculture of a community is guided by its actual nutritional needs, it would be impossible to avoid either malnutrition or its inappropriate counterpart" [Lal Manavado]. I also strongly agree with this idea. This may answer questions of members who raise its worthiness to do so.

      When we say integrating nutrition in the curricula of agriculture education we do not mean that all agricultural graduates will be nutritionist or agricultural professionals will not replace the role of nutritionist. We are saying that agricultural professionals should have basic nutrition knowledge so as to promote nutrition sensitive agriculture. We may not expect from agricultural professional to be competent with detail nutrition skills like those of nutritionist.

      Let me share our experience of integrating nutrition in to the curricula of agricultural education. The most important activity that we have to do first  is that identifying nutrition core competencies that is relevant for agricultural professional.

      Nutrition core competencies we identified for agriculture professionals are listed below: All the listed core competencies are described with their attributes in terms of knowledge, skill and attitude competency domains.  

      1. Apply basic principles of human nutrition
      2. Assist in a variety of agricultural food production and promote use of diversified/complementary foods
      3. Promote safe handling of agricultural food products during storage, transportation and preservation
      4. Promote nutrition through Behaviour Change Communication(BCC)  and use of technology
      5. Utilize multi-sectoral collaboration and linkage
      6. Plan manage, monitor and evaluate agriculture-related nutrition interventions
      7. Apply professionalism and ethics

      The challenge we faced at the beginning was how to integrate those nutrition core competencies in to the existing curricula of agricultural education. As we all know curriculum revision requires a great deal with decision makers and it needs long period of time. To escape these long process, add-on approach i.e integrating the identified nutrition core competencies within the existing potential curriculum of agriculture education was the first option that we followed. Throughout all these process, all the essential stakeholders like MOA, MOH, MOE and other stakeholders were consulted.

      Is it possible to address those nutrition core competencies with add-on approach or with extra lecture hours? As it was raised by Jane Sherman [participant to the discussion], this is the most important point that should be answered. Of course, now the Ministry of Agriculture(MoA) endorsed nutrition to be one of Occupational Standard (OS) for mid-level agricultural graduates and we are also working with Ministry of Education (MoE) to do the same for university agricultural graduates.

      Having said this much about our experiences, I would like to request members to share their experiences and thought with specific to each leading questions listed under the discussion topics.

      Mebit Kebede
      Jhpiego Ethiopia