Can agriculture play a bigger role in solving malnutrition?

Farmer in Ghana

Marc Van Ameringen is Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). He was recently awarded WFP's "Hunger Hero Award". In the article below, originally featured in The Guardian, he explains why an agriculture and nutrition integrated agenda is vital for addressing malnutrition in low and middle income countries. 

One of the most important events for the nutrition sector over the past two decades was the Nutrition for Growth meeting convened by David Cameron in the lead up to the last G8 meeting. For the first time we saw developing country governments, civil society, donors, and the private sector make major commitments to address undernutrition, totaling over US$ 23 billion up to 2020. But is this enough to meet Ban Ki-moon's challenge of ending hunger and malnutrition in our lifetime? Can the agriculture and nutrition communities step up to the plate and work better together?...

First, there is no reason why we can't develop more complementary approaches that integrate what works for both sectors. And while providing inputs to support agricultural productivity, we should do more to fill the nutrient gaps in the household by encouraging better use of nutrient dense crops and animal sources of protein. Combining these approaches with targeted nutrition interventions such as education, support for exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding, micronutrient supplementation where needed, as well as hygiene and sanitation, would collectively give us a far better chance to achieve measurable success in reducing stunting and undernutrition. To do this we have to break down the silos between the various sectors and develop delivery together…

Forging stronger links between agriculture and nutrition sectors is a critical big part of eliminating malnutrition. So we need to start using the investments pledged in London for programmes on the ground in countries around the world. Let's start developing more programmes that combine multiple interventions across agriculture and nutrition, and also more aggressively begin building markets for nutritious foods that reach the poor.

  • Click here to read the original article featured in The Guardian. 

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