Young school children
in rural India eating
millet chappatis with
rice and vegetable
Ensuring nutritional security
in rural communities
alnutrition has been declared as the greatest single threat to the world’s
public health by UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition.
Smallholder agriculture can play a strong role in reducing malnutrition in
resource-poor rural communities, through a broader partnership with the health,
nutrition and education sectors.
We recommend integrating nutrition and agriculture developments and working
from both the demand and supply side.
We need to mainstream nutrition into agricultural development. We can do
A. Growing nutri-resilient crops – crops that are highly nutritious as well as
better able to cope with drought and poor soil.
B. Incorporating nutrition needs along the whole agricultural value chain.
C. Cross-sectoral partnering forged with agriculture, health and education
Science with a human face
The problem and opportunity
According to the UN World Food Program, more than
900 million people in the world do not get the
right or nutritious food to eat.
Engaging the right partners across agriculture,
health and education is essential to ensure a
sustainable impact on nutrition.
Taking a holistic approach to mainstreaming
nutrition will require multiple approaches,
ensuring the availability of nutritious food
through to the demand for more nutritious food.
ICRISAT can work with the public and private
sectors and be the independent catalyst to
make this happen.
About 50% of child deaths under the age of five in
developing countries are linked to undernutrition.
Malnutrition at an early age may lead to reduced
physical and mental development and also limits
capacity to learn.
Past agricultural advancement that has focused on the
quantity of food are often blamed for malnutrition.
Let’s start in the rural areas – of the 3 billion people
that live in rural areas (nearly half of the humanity),
about 2.5 billion are involved in agriculture and
1.5 billion (half of the rural area population) are
resource-poor smallholder farmers.
Grow nutri-resilient crops – crops that are
highly nutritious as well as better able to cope
with drought and poor soil. Identifying and
focusing on nutri-resilient crops of the future is
an important component.
Incorporate nutrition needs along the whole
agricultural value chain.
Biofortification – breeding micronutrientrich crop varieties – using a combination
of conventional, genomics and molecular
Seed production and delivery systems for
dissemination to improve farmers’ knowledge
or access to seeds of improved varieties.
On-farm crop and livestock diversity.
Crop management interventions to
improve grain micronutrient concentration.
Addressing major food safety issues such as:
₋₋ incorporate resistance to aflatoxins in
groundnut breeding program
₋₋ introduce on-farm and storage
practices that reduce the risk of
₋₋ introduce to farmers, simple costeffective aflatoxin testing kits.
Key to the success includes the following:
▪▪ Participatory approach – involving
stakeholders and beneficiaries, including
women, in the research ensuring they are
helping identify the needs and direct the
▪▪ Capacity building – working alongside the
national system to build local capacity and
ensure that initiatives are sustainable.
▪▪ Integrating communications – to build
awareness and share knowledge along the
whole value chain.
▪▪ Empowering women – past successes in
agricultural research for development have
shown the critical need to ensure women
are involved in programs and empowered
to take action. Nutritional programs in
particular will require women’s inputs to
provide direction as well as empowering
them to act on the recommendations.
Methods to achieve this will be important
to apply at all stages of the value chain.
▪▪ Monitoring and evaluation – is
important at all stages of the work to
ensure inputs to continually direct the
research and adoption efforts.
Reduce malnutrition through agricultural research
and development to stimulate the whole
value chain – from developing, growing, and value
addition of nutri-resilient crops; biofortification,
breeding and disseminating micronutrient-rich
crop varieties; and partnering with stakeholders to
mainstream health, agriculture, nutrition education,
and women empowerment.
CLL Gowda, Deputy Director General-Research,
Post-harvest processing and value
Influencing policy to support nutrition
Educating and building demand for
Cross-sectoral partnerships forged with
agriculture, health and education sectors.
A concept note for
Ensuring nutritional security in rural India
Joanna Kane-Potaka, Director, Strategic Marketing
and Communication, E-mail: email@example.com