About Nutrition [ID: 179]

Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture

Nutrition is an integral part of Agenda 2030. It is directly referred to in SDG2, but it also links many of the targets of several other goals. Increasingly donors are working to identify, share and promote agriculture and rural development’s potential to bolster food security and nutrition, to harness linkages between nutrition and agriculture and between nutrition and health, and to increase engagement with long-term approaches towards food security and nutrition and ultimately towards the implementation of the SDGs.

Agriculture is considered as a prime candidate for nutrition sensitive programming. Agriculture is and will continue to play an essential role in ensuring an accessible supply of diverse, nutritious food at all times, either from the market or from farmer’s own production. In the past agricultural development projects have relied mainly on increasing production and raising incomes to reduce poverty and enhance food and nutrition security. While this approach has its benefits, it is now widely recognised that higher levels of production and income alone have a limited impact on improving nutrition.

The members of the working group on nutrition agree that it will be of great importance in the upcoming years to choose wisely investment leverage points. For 2016 the discussions focused therefore on “nutrition-sensitive” agriculture, an approach that seeks to maximize agriculture’s contribution to nutrition. This strategy stresses the multiple benefits derived from enjoying a variety of foods, recognizing the nutritional value of food for good nutrition, health and productivity, and the social significance of the food and agricultural sector for supporting rural livelihoods. The approach also entails targeting poor households, promoting gender equity, and providing nutrition education so that household resources are used to improve household members’ nutrition, especially that of women and young children. Finally, it involves linking agriculture to sectors that address other causes of malnutrition, namely education, health and social protection.

In line with the SDGs and the diverse targets and indicators behind each SDG, including SDG2, a multisectoral approach. A new way of thinking is needed to address nutrition challenges — including maternal and child undernutrition. Nutrition can be tackled from different perspectives, including health, food, agriculture and environment. Platform members place great emphasis on the synergies and linkages between ARD and food security and nutrition interventions, favouring agricultural diversification and increased production of local, indigenous and underutilised food crops as important steps towards improved nutritio

Role of agriculture for nutrition-impact pathways

There is general consensus that agriculture can influence nutrition and health through multiple pathways and interactions:

  • Agriculture as a source food
  • Agriculture as a source of income
  • Agriculture as a driver for food prices
  • Agriculture to improve women’s decision making power and control over resources
  • Agriculture’s impact on women’s time allocation
  • Agriculture’s impact on women’s own nutrition and health

Nutrition-sensitive agriculture approach

FAO, one of the members of the nutrition workstream, acknowledges that “agriculture interventions do not always contribute to positive nutritional outcomes.” One of the stated aims of the renewed focus on agriculture is to encourage agricultural policies and programs to become “nutrition-sensitive”, an approach that seeks to maximise agriculture’s contribution to nutrition. This strategy stresses the multiple benefits derived from enjoying a variety of foods, recognising the nutritional value of food for good nutrition, health and productivity, and the social significance of the food and agricultural sector for supporting rural livelihoods. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture also entails targeting poor households, promoting gender equity, and providing nutrition education so that household resources are used to improve household members’ nutrition, especially that of women and young children.

FAO/CFS definition of food security/ text source: Committee on World Food Security, Coming to terms with terminology, 2012

Food and nutrition security exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to food, which is safe and consumed in sufficient quantity and quality to meet their dietary needs and food preferences, and is supported by an environment of adequate sanitation, health services and care, allowing for a healthy and active life..

Focus on maternal and child unternutrition

A diet that meets all nutrient needs is vital. Children who do not have access to such a diet are at a particular risk of stunting, higher morbidity and mortality as well as reduced cognitive development. Poor nutrition for pregnant women can impede foetal growth, resulting in low birth weight and an increased risk that the child’s growth will be stunted. Undernutrition and malnutrition weaken the immune system and increase the risk and severity of infections--also preventing people from fully utilising their potential to live productive lives. But women are not only one of the most vulnerable people, women also play a central role in household and child nutrition. When they have more control over resources, household nutrition tends to improve. This implies a need to strengthen women’s rights and decision-making roles as well as equal access to resources. Supporting gender-aware agricultural interventions that focus on women’s role in nutrition is a major pathway to improving nutrition outcomes.

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