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Tropentag, September 17 - 19, 2018 in Ghent

"Global food security and food safety: The role of universities"

Agriculture Can Improve Nutrition: How Can Countries Leverage Agriculture, Linking with Other Sectors, to Improve Nutrition

Namukolo Covic

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Poverty Health and Nutrition Div., Ethiopia


It seems intuitive that agriculture should improve nutrition, but evidence has shown that this requires deliberate efforts to attain. There is a mismatch between agriculture productivity improvements, and nutrition and health outcomes across low and middle-income countries. Research and programme evaluations have demonstrated that agriculture can indeed improve nutrition when integrated and designed with specific nutrition objectives and sensitivity. The keynote focusses on a synthesis of what we know, challenges and opportunities based on available evidence. The CGIAR Collaborative Research Programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is used as an example to explore opportunities for synergy.
Before 2013, reviews on agriculture and nutrition were largely inconclusive showing little evidence that agriculture can improve nutrition outcomes. This in part due to poor design of projects/programmes making them difficult to evaluate, but also due to lack of specific nutrition objectives. Since 2013 additional evidence has emerged demonstrating that agriculture can indeed improve nutrition for integrated nutrition sensitive agriculture projects/programmes. Beyond key agricultural inputs such as supplying biofortified or nutrient-dense foods, key elements include women's empowerment, targeting, improved programme implementation, nutrition education and enabling multi-sectoral action.
However, how can countries leverage this knowledge, working with other sectors to create stronger linkages with nutrition and health? A4NH work on Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) and East Africa (LANEA) has shown that building commitment and translating commitments into action and impact requires attention to evidence (both data and related perceptions), policy, politics and governance; and capacity and finance. Ethiopia, Zambia and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) are used as case studies on challenges and opportunities for country led action. The case studies show different examples of what works and what doesn't and how a programme such as A4NH can support country performance in a more systematic and rigorous way.

Keywords: Nutrition sensitive agriculture

Contact Address: Namukolo Covic, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Poverty Health and Nutrition Div., Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, e-mail: n.covic@cgiar.org

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