Nutrition agricultural biodiversity and food prices


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The food price crises amplifies preexisting inequalities in food distribution and quality globally
Beyond temporary shocks, the food system is undergoing long-term changes that affect everyone, particularly the poor.
Read more about Bioversity International’s work on diet diversity for nutrition and health

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  • While the benefits of the globalized food system are apparent—greater choice for consumers, greater nutritional diversity, and lower cost—the risks are increasingly apparent as well. The present system should be credited with making food more widely available and affordable to large portions of the world. Yet recent trends in food production, processing, trade, marketing, and retailing contribute to the rising occurrence of diet-related NCDs around the world. An ever greater share of farm output enters the commercial food system, with multiple transformations of food and many actors intervening between farmer and consumer. While global commercialization provides a great variety of food and beverages to most people, it also offers more products in processed and packaged forms containing a wide array of ingredients, including salt, sweeteners, and oils. Consumption of excess amounts of those ingredients and products, combined with other lifestyle changes, manifests in adverse health outcomes. Related to the trends in agriculture, food system products have also become more commercial, more global, and more complex. Great improvements in variety, quality, and availability have been accompanied by declining localization and tradition. These trade-offs may be desirable if food systems are delivering affordable and healthy food. But, except for the welloff few who can afford it, this is not the case. The affordability of modern diets measured by cost per unit of energy, or kilocalorie, is increasing. But energy is not the only measure of what a food system should produce. People around the world are consuming more calories but their health is worsening.
  • Our Dwindling Food Variety: As we've come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared. It's hard to know exactly how many have been lost over the past century, but a study conducted in 1983 by the Rural Advancement Foundation International gave a clue to the scope of the problem. It compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct. More up-to-date studies are needed. Since the 1900s, 75% of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform, high-yielding varieties. 30% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction; six breeds are lost each month. 75% of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species. Of the 4% of the 300 000 known edible plant species, only 150 to 200 are used by humans. Only three - rice, maize and wheat - contribute nearly 60 percent of calories and proteins obtained by humans from plants. Animals provide some 30% of human requirements for food and agriculture and 12 percent of the world’s population live almost entirely on products from ruminants
  • 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.
  • Soaring food prices The world’s poor who spend majority of their disposable income on food and have minimal savings are particularly vulnerable
  • Soaring food prices The world’s poor who spend majority of their disposable income on food and have minimal savings are particularly vulnerable
  • Many farmers are NETBUYERS Costs of diets and food prices are gaining Migration to urban centers is accelerating Cost of a typical food basket around the world has risen by 48% in real terms over the last twelve months Devastating consequences for poor people who spend up to 80% of their household income on food An analysis on the costs of diets, using a linear programming tool developed by Save the Children UK, demonstrate that in countries such as Ethiopia and Tanzania, the cost of the diet exceeds the income earned per day ( Figure 27 ). Although agriculture could play a role in producing better quality food, and adequate health care could reduce disease risk, without mechanisms for households to access, consume and utilize nutritious foods, these efforts are ineffective. This also demonstrates that social protection programmes, such as food safety nets, cash transfers and food vouchers, are important to filling this cost gap.
  • Nutrition agricultural biodiversity and food prices

    1. 1. Nutrition, Agricultural Biodiversity and Food Prices: Federico Mattei MSc Nutrition and Diversity Bioversity International Rome, Italy
    2. 2. Table of contents <ul><li>The Context </li></ul><ul><li>Price Volatility and Nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Some Possible Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    3. 3. Our global food system is strained <ul><li>The food price crises amplifies preexisting inequalities in food distribution and quality globally </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond temporary shocks, the food system is undergoing long-term changes that affect everyone, particularly the poor </li></ul>R. churchill
    4. 4. Rising prices vs. Fluctuating prices After the price crisis of the mid seventies, a significant effort was made geared towards lowering food prices through increased production Since 1976 food prices in constant 2000 US$ have slowly but continuously declined (while volatility has been variable)
    5. 5. Research to Support Agriculture <ul><li>There has been an inadequate emphasis and investment in research for developing the productivity or fully utilizing the traditional food sources and biodiversity </li></ul>Share of bilateral and multilateral aid to agriculture in total aid to all sectors
    6. 6. Yields, Prices or Nutrient Outputs <ul><li>Agricultural practices have been traditionally aimed at increasing production while decreasing costs </li></ul><ul><li>Recently, preserving the environment has become a more prominent goal </li></ul>However, maximizing nutrient output of farming systems has never been a primary objective of modern agriculture
    7. 7. <ul><li>Nearly 2000 million tons of rice, maize and wheat are grown every year (FAO 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Of the 50,000 edible plants, 200 contribute to the food supply </li></ul><ul><li>Of the 8,000 known livestock breeds, 1,600 are endangered or already extinct </li></ul>Loss of agricultural biodiversity
    8. 8. Loss of diet variety <ul><li>The world has over 50 000 edible plants. Just three of them, rice, maize and wheat, provide 60 percent of the world's food energy intake . </li></ul><ul><li>Of these 50 000, only a few hundred contribute significantly to food supplies. </li></ul><ul><li>Although there are over 10 000 species in the Gramineae (cereal) family, few have been widely introduced into cultivation over the past 2 000 years </li></ul><ul><li>Cereals are high in carbohydrates so they do provide energy, have low to moderate protein but are low in micronutrients; often poor quality and over processed . </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>200 million children are chronically undernourished </li></ul><ul><li>2 billion people have micronutrient deficiencies </li></ul><ul><li>60% of child deaths have an underlying cause of poor nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>1.6 billion people are overweight or obese </li></ul>The statistics are staggering UNICEF, 2009
    10. 10. South Atlantic Ocean South Pacific Ocean Indian Ocean Arctic Ocean Arctic Ocean North Pacific Ocean 1 billion are overweight or obese Source: The World is Fat (Penguin, Dec 2008) BMI Over 25 <10% 10-20% 21-30% 31-40% 41-50% > 51%
    11. 11. Table of contents <ul><li>The Context </li></ul><ul><li>Price Volatility and Nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Some Possible Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    12. 12. Effects of Food Price Crisis on Food Consumption <ul><li>The cost of the food basket increased in several countries, forcing households to reduce quality and quantity of food consumed </li></ul><ul><li>Simulations (American Institute of Nutrition, 2010) show that energy consumption declined during 2006–2010 in nearly all developing regions, resulting potentially in an additional 457 million people (of 4.5 billion) at risk of being hungry </li></ul><ul><li>The FCS, which is a measure of diet diversity, is negatively correlated with food prices </li></ul>In June 2011, the average was 234 – 39% higher than a year ago
    13. 13. Effects of Food Price Crisis on Nutrition <ul><li>Households reduce both dietary diversity as well as energy intake in response to increased food prices and reduced income </li></ul><ul><li>The decreased purchase of more expensive foods typically equates to consumption of fewer nutrient-dense foods, such as animal source foods (meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk), fruits, and vegetables </li></ul><ul><li>In severe cases, households may also reduce expenditure on basic foods, such as sugar, oil, salt, and staples </li></ul>
    14. 14. Total Food Expenditures before and after food price crisis Bouis et al 2011
    15. 15. Table of contents <ul><li>The Context </li></ul><ul><li>Price Volatility and Nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Some Possible Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    16. 16. Diversifying Staples – Minor Millets <ul><li>Minor millets are grown in areas of India where, because of their high tolerance to drought, are more productive than other grains </li></ul><ul><li>Bioversity worked with 200 farming families to increase the production and commercialization of three minor millets </li></ul><ul><li>By training the women in quality standardization, packaging and production, new millet based recipes were developed into popular snack foods, which led to increased sales of millet-based products and malt in urban markets </li></ul><ul><li>IMPACT </li></ul><ul><li>Monitored farmers increased their yields of minor millets by 70%. </li></ul><ul><li>Processing the millet into malt added value, and increased income, with some women tripling their profits by selling only the malt </li></ul>
    17. 17. But, price volatility patterns show interesting trends Domestic prices for rice, wheat and maize are less volatile than traditional staples in Africa: 2005 - 2010
    18. 18. Food Systems are a Possible Solution Staple production is essential as it provides the bulk of energy requirement s needed in a daily diet but….. It can be complemented, in more complex food systems , with other crops that not only provide fortified ecosystem services but also, essential micronutrients Furthermore, this increase in agricultural biodiversity acts as a way to decrease risk (hedging bets), reduce effect of price volatility and increase resilience 1 2 3
    19. 19. Mesoamerican “three sisters” <ul><li>-The combination of corn (a grass), beans (a nitrogen fixating legume) and squash (a low lying creeper) maximize trait efficiency between species resulting in higher yields that those obtained from three monocrop cultures of these crops </li></ul><ul><li>Corn is particularly efficient at maximizing photosynthesis and grows straight and tall, the beans take advantage of this structural support and help fixate nitrogen (which become available to the corn) and the squash takes advantage of the relative shade provided by the other two and provides soil erosion protection. </li></ul><ul><li>Corn is an important source of carbohydrates, beans provide protein, fiber, vitamin B, zinc and iron and squash provides many micronutrients including vitamin A </li></ul>
    20. 20. Three Sisters Spider Diagram A. Ideal diet: dark gray; lack of protein and micronutrients: light gray. B. Nutrient composition of 3 food crops shown as % of daily requirement: Corn: dark gray; Black beans: light gray; Pumpkin: black line. (DeClerck et al., 2011)
    21. 21. Rice Paddies and Fish Farming - Fish culture in rice fields offer one of the best means of contemporaneous production of grain and animal protein on the same piece of land - Increase in organic fertilization by fish excreta and remains of artificial feed and reduction in the number of harmful insects, such as paddy stem borers, whose larvae are eaten by fish as well as control of algae and weeds which compete with rice for light and nutrients - It is estimated that a potential fish yield of 2.2 – 2.4 million metric tons could be obtained annually from the rice fields (Vincke, 1979) which would provide essential protein and micronutrients need to complement a rice based diet
    22. 22. Cost of Diets: Filling gaps with local and wild foods
    23. 23. Cost of Diets Project <ul><li>Project in collaboration with Save the Children UK. </li></ul><ul><li>The role of wild and underutilized foods in reducing the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet in order to develop accessible and local food-based solutions to micronutrient deficiencies in the Baringo East region of Kenya </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis: Locally sourced NUS and wild foods in Baringo, Kenya can be used to significantly reduce the daily cost of a nutritious diet and reduce the gap between cost of diet and income for households, thus identifying local solutions aimed at meeting the nutrient requirements of mothers and 6-24 month old children in the area. </li></ul>Wild Foods in the Cost of Diet
    24. 24. Conclusions Price volatility and the food price crisis affects an already burdened and unequal food system An overreliance on boosting yields of a few specific staples has had dramatic consequences on global nutrition and food security There is a need to find alternative solutions to combating hunger and increasing diet variety 1 2 3 4 Increasing and diversifying agricultural production enables households to consume more varied diets and also mitigates some of the effects of price volatility and uncertainty