Ensuring agricultural biodiversity and nutrition remain central to addressing the MDG1 Hunger target

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Given at Bioversity/FAO meeting on Biodiversity and sustainable diets, 3-5 November 2010. Read more about Bioversity International’s work on diet diversity for nutrition and health: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/research-portfolio/diet-diversity/

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  • A declaration was made promising that the world would be food secure in 1996. This was reaffirmed in 2000 with the MDGs. As of 2010, we are far off the mark in ensuring that our global population is food secure and that countries are on track to meet the MDG1 hunger target which is to cut those who are hungry in half by 2015. We have 1 billion who are hungry, 200 million children who are stunted and irreversibly damaged, 2 billion who suffer from sort form of micronutrient deficiency– many being iron and zinc deficient, and another at least 1 billion who are 20% or more over their ideal bodyweight. This obesity trend is not just found in the US and other wealthy countries – but is rapidly increasing in some of the poorest countries in the world like the Congo, Tanzania, as well as highly populated areas such as China, India and Brazil.
  • If we break down the UNICEF framework, most of the interventions done have focused on disease related causes – treating the malnutrition. Very little focus has been on food related causes that address low diet diversity – the quantity and quality.Wheat, rice and maize > ½ the world’s food energy and provide up to 70-80% of energy for a person’s diet daily in the developing world.These cereals are high in carbohydrates so they do provide energy, have low to moderate protein but are low in micronutrients; often poor quality and overprocessed. Because these are the foods that are largely consumed daily, most suffer from limited diet diversity with profound micronutrient, protein and essential fat deficiencies. This also leads to poor child undernutrition due to Poor infant and young child feeding sources – stunting and poor developmentFurther, Due to heavy milling, many nations fortify refined flours;Unprocessed grains are often considered “poor man’s food” or not preferredAsian Green Revolution: Significant increase in production of wheat and rice but many of the secondary food grains such as pulses and millets were not emphasized. India is one of the worst states of undernutrition and carries the heaviest burden.
  • 1. Achieving global food security and the MDG Hunger target requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the availability, access, utilization and stability dimensions of food security, focusing on immediate needs and assisting in building sustainability in order to eliminate the root causes of hunger and progressive realisation of the right to food.2. Hunger and undernutrition are inextricably linked to wider progress towards all MDG targets. They are both cause and consequence of gains in health, income, education, gender equality and the environment. A comprehensive food systems approach will therefore require working on multiple fronts.Although requires effort and funding upfront, Food Systems Approaches holds the most promise for sustainabilityRequires collaboration and coordination between sectorsWill ensure long-term resilience because involves behavior change, incentives and community driven action
  • Ensuring agricultural biodiversity and nutrition remain central to addressing the MDG1 Hunger target

    1. 1. Ensuring agriculture biodiversity and nutrition remain central to addressing the MDG1c hunger target Jessica Fanzo PhD Senior Scientist Bioversity International
    2. 2. The MDG1c Target and its indicators • Target 1C of the Millennium Development Goals seeks to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger • Target 1: underweight for age of children under five - composite indicator • Target 2: proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption • These indicators are not perfect, and largely exclude the complexities of food security, hunger and undernutrition FOOD PRODUCTION FOOD ACCESS FOOD UTILIZATION FOOD STABILITY
    3. 3. Not all countries will meet the MDG1 hunger target by 2015
    4. 4. • 200 million children are chronically undernourished • 2 billion people have micronutrient deficiencies of Fe, VA, I + Fo • 60% of child deaths have an underlying cause of poor nutrition • 1 billion people are overweight or obese and many in dev world Beyond the MDG1: Current State of Global Nutrition
    5. 5. How is this dire situation being addressed? Maternal Nutrition Child Nutrition Micronutrient Supplementation Iodized salt Treatment of acute malnutrition Vitamin A supplementation Zinc in treatment of diarrhea Infant and young child feeding These health-based interventions are critically important but have limitations
    6. 6. Food-related interventions are hunger driven Food-related causes Disease-related causes Inadequate quantity Inadequate quality UNDERNUTRITION Most of the focus on “food related causes” of undernutrition = hunger-driven strategy
    7. 7. What about the underlying determinants of undernutrition? •Greater attention to hunger and nutrition requires integrating technical and policy interventions with broader and more integral approaches •This requires integration of agriculture, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure, gender, education, good governance and legal, judicial and administrative protection
    8. 8. The Barriers So Far • Tackling the determinants are not so easy: Poverty, conflict, social and governance issues • Political complexities have made nutrition an orphan • Lack of coordination and funding • Focus and scale-up of “stop gaps” in vertical treatment-based health programs • Agriculture research, programs and policy have not focused on nutrition security - this is a contributing factor to over simplified diets, and a lack of diet diversity globally
    9. 9. PRODUCER SUBSYSTEM NUTRITION SUBSYSTEM CONSUMER SUBSYSTEM Digestion (input) Transport of Nutrients (transformation) Utilization of Nutrients (output) Access (input) Preparation (transformation) Consumption (output) Production (input) Processing (transformation) Distribution (output) set of operations and processes involved in transforming raw materials into foods and transforming nutrients into health outcomes, all of which functions as a system within biophysical and sociocultural contexts A new approach: Food and Nutrition Systems
    10. 10. Agricultural Biodiversity and the MDG1 • Agricultural Biodiversity: Pertains to the biological variety exhibited among crops and animals used for food and agriculture as well as among organisms that constitute agricultural ecosystems at ecosystem, species, and genetic levels • Critical as a coping mechanism against hunger • Provides a rich source of nutrients for improved diet diversity, which is correlated with improved nutrition outcomes • Important for environmental sustainability and strengthening of local food systems • Deriving direct benefits from agricultural biodiversity is an incentive to conserve that diversity – longer term thinking beyond the life of the MDGs
    11. 11. Neglected and Underutilized Species • Abundant but did not make the transition into the global food system or the nutrition agenda largely • Potentially important, but neglected by science and markets • Nutritionally and functionally complex
    12. 12. Critical Gaps of data, evidence and operations research • More timely and accurate data on hunger and nutrition, particularly shocks and vulnerabilities • Demonstrate, build and establish the evidence of diet and health linkages to agriculture in diverse food systems • Improve delivery science of what food system approaches are “working on the ground” and “how they are working” to advance nutrition • Inform policy and practices on this evidence
    13. 13. Critical gaps of policy • Nutrition and hunger fall within a broader mandate that includes agriculture, health, education, water and sanitation and other departments. This poses clear challenges to leadership and coordination • Too often, no single entity or team takes primary responsibility for working at the nexus of research, policy and program development • Dedicated policy and clear leadership at country level on food systems work with country level ownership – nutrition and ABD REQUIRE this expertise
    14. 14. Critical Gap of being proactive, not reactive • Wasted resources, without a lens on local determinants that impact hunger and nutrition outcomes • Approaches should be prevention-rooted, and focused on quick impact initiatives linked with long-term investments in the determinants of hunger and undernutrition, and ultimately poverty • Food assistance and safety nets can help build physical assets and strengthens human capital to protect livelihoods, and build resilience to shocks
    15. 15. With the Five Years Remaining • Need to focus on operations and implementation of cross-sectoral strategies that include food systems integration • Vulnerable populations should come first – young children and women, and geographically isolated • Global Action: Ensure that international development initiatives incorporate nutrition linked food system approaches in food security, global health and social protection policies and programs • National Action: Promote agriculture biodiversity conservation and its role in nutrition in national Nutrition and Agriculture plans and policies • Local Action: Retool joint nutrition and agriculture interventions into regional and local programs, particularly in developing countries, through a food systems lens
    16. 16. Wider MDG Agenda • Hunger and undernutrition are inextricably linked to wider progress towards all MDG targets • They are both cause and consequence of gains in health, income, education, gender equality and the environment • A comprehensive approach to addressing hunger and nutrition will therefore require working on multiple fronts • These fronts include: health interventions, social safety nets to protect people against risk and vulnerability, agriculture and education at minimum
    17. 17. A Food Systems Approach to achieving the MDG1 Hunger Target • The work done so far in improving nutrition has not been adequate, globally but rapid and sustainable gains in reducing undernutrition and hunger is possible • Supplementation, fortification, and agriculture “food production” interventions to improve malnutrition are all necessary but insufficient • There has been a lack of focus on agricultural biodiversity and our food system as a whole • Although requires effort and funding upfront, Food Systems Approaches holds promise for sustainability of the efforts in achieving the MDGs

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