Agriculture and Nutrition: Two Peas, or Chalk and Cheese?
Agriculture plays an essential role in global nutrition, but we know that increased agricultural production is not sufficient for improved health and nutrition outcomes. Many other factors — such as crop selection, diet diversity, cultural norms and sanitation — affect whether yield or income improvements will contribute to better nutrition in a community. With this in mind, how should the agricultural development community proceed, in order to strengthen and empirically demonstrate the links between agriculture and nutrition?
Generation Nutrition, a global anti-hunger campaign, has released a concise fact sheet that highlights challenges, case examples, pathways and recommendations regarding agricultural programs and undernutrition in developing countries. I highly recommend taking a look at the publication. One of the most useful tables in the fact sheet describes seven important conditions that enable food to support a well-nourished population:
In the fact sheet, Generation Nutrition calls on governments, donors, international institutions and other actors working in agriculture and nutrition to take six key actions:
- Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators in the design of agricultural policies and programs
- Increase the funding available for nutrition-sensitive approaches in agriculture
- Focus on tackling recurring food shortages in the months preceding the harvest
- Ensure that efforts to improve dietary practices become a standard part of food security-oriented agricultural programs
- Monitor and seek to avoid any potentially negative impact of agricultural programs on gender equality
- Integrate aid for agriculture with other actions tackling the multi-sectoral causes of undernutrition
Do you agree with these recommendations? Is anything missing in terms of the linkages between food production and nutrition?
For more on nutrition-sensitive agriculture, please see:
- Improving Nutrition Through Agriculture Technical Brief Series, USAID SPRING Project
- Technical Guidance Brief on Nutrient-Rich Value Chains, USAID Global Health
- Article: "Impacts of Agriculture on Nutrition: Nature of the Evidence and Research Gaps", Patrick Webb and Eileen Kennedy