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Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition for Food and Nutrition Security in Myanmar

Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition for Food and Nutrition Security in Myanmar by Khin Mar Cho, International Agricultural Extension and Nutrition Specialist, Cornell University.
Presented at the ReSAKSS-Asia - MIID conference "Evolving Agrifood Systems in Asia: Achieving food and nutrition security by 2030" on Oct 30-31, 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar.

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Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition for Food and Nutrition Security in Myanmar

  1. 1. “Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition for Food and Nutrition Security in Myanmar” Dr. Khin Mar Cho International Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Specialist Cornell University, New York, USA Evolving Agrifood Systems in Asia: Achieving Food and Nutrition Security by 2030 October 30-November 1, 2019 ReSAKSS Asia Conference 2019, Chatrium Royal Lake, Yangon, MYANMAR
  2. 2. The Four Industrial Revolutions • Successive industrial revolutions have defined who we are and what we eat. In the mid 18th century, steam engines, railways and mechanized agriculture changed the ways food was produced and transported. • The 2nd Industrial Revolution , in the mid 19th century, brought electrical grids, assembly lines and mass production. Job loss happened in Agriculture while employment in the manufacturing and service sector grew. • The 3rd Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the transistor in 1947, efficient use of plant nutrients, pesticides, seed or water is possible by using information technologies and other digital applications, like sensors, robotics, drones, GPS and autonomous vehicles. • The 4th Industrial Revolution is a result of the rapid development and application of physical, digital and biological technologies. It offers countless possibilities to grow more food in different ways, such as gene-edited plants and animals, yeast-brewed milk, vegan cheese and Lab-grown meat.
  3. 3. New technologies are changing agricultural production, but can they help address food insecurity?
  4. 4. 26, Myanmar: 54,336,138 World Population 2019 (7.7+Billion)
  5. 5. ASEAN-GDP and GDP per capita (2019 Est.)
  6. 6. Myanmar GDP in Billion USD (2012-2022)
  7. 7. Nutritional Status in Myanmar • Five Nutrient Deficiencies as major nutritional problems: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Iodine, Iron (MDHS survey 2017) • Iron Deficiency Anemia: 60% school children, 50% pregnant women, 47% of reproductive aged women • Experiencing the double burden of malnutrition and obesity. 19% of under-five are underweight, one in four- stunting, 7 in 100 - wasting (due to Micronutrient deficiencies - Undernutrition) while 25% of those aged 15-64 are overweight or obese. • Overnutrition - Under five: 0ne in 100; 5-9 years old: 3 in 100; 5 in 100 of teenager girls, 3 in one of reproductive aged women (15-49) overweight problem • Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) due to Micronutrient deficiencies- one in 3 children • Nearly one-in-three citizens over the age of 40 are reported to have hypertension and half have high cholesterol. • Poor Lifestyle Choices are unfortunately becoming the norm in Myanmar. The result is that more people have coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney failure than ever before. • 12% of the overall population has diabetes, while 15% are smokers. • Risk factors are higher among patients with hypertension, of whom 30% have diabetes and 60% have high cholesterol. • Over consumption of sodium/salt (preserved food with a high sodium content) • Lacking in essential vitamins and minerals: Under consumption of fruits and vegetables
  8. 8. Understanding Food Systems A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items. It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps. * Community-local-regional-national- global food systems
  9. 9. Linking Agriculture and Nutrition for Food & Nutrition Security • Food Availability • Food production • Food processing • Food marketing & distribution • Local and seasonal food (Food Calendars) • Food Accessibility • Household income & Family size • Food purchasing, food prices volatility • Financing food with debt - urban and rural poor • Food Utilization • Food preparation • Food consumption & Eating Behaviors • Food diversification/food balancing -Dietary diversity • Food safety, sanitation & good hygiene practices Myanmar Typical diet • Individual rice consumption- 200kg/year/person (2016) - 155 kg • Urban 130 kg, 160-170 kg in rural area, average 150 kg/year/person
  10. 10. Food Availability • Myanmar is self-sufficient in terms of national level food production • Major food crops include rice, pulses, corn, groundnut, sesame and sunflower • Large producer and exporter of pulses as well as fish and shrimp • Food calories intake per person has increased significantly in recent years 10 Food and Nutrition Security Strategic Review: Some Findings (WFP-MIID, 2017-18)
  11. 11. 1500 1700 1900 2100 2300 2500 2700 2900 3100 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 ASEAN FOOD SUPPLY (kcal/capita/day) Cambodia Indonesia Lao PDR Malaysia Myanmar Philippines Thailand Vietnam Source: FAO STAT Food Balance Sheet Database. 14 November 2016
  12. 12. Myanmar Demographic Health Survey (MDHS), 2015-16- Children Under 5 Year-old • Stunting 29% • Wasting 7% • Underweight 19% Global Initiatives: Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2.2) targets for 2025 Children Under 5 Year-old • Reduce stunting by 40% • Reduce wasting to less than 5% of the population Nutritional Outcomes Micronutrient deficiencies - Invisible problem but limits physical and mental development
  13. 13. Source: WHO 2017 Stunting, Wasting, Overweight
  14. 14. Source: WHO 2017 Stunting, Wasting, Overweight
  15. 15. Source: WHO 2017 Stunting, Wasting, Overweight, EBF, Anemia, Obesity
  16. 16. Food Accessibility • Poverty within the agricultural workforce is the largest constraint to food access in Myanmar. • Majority of agricultural workforce: Small holder farmers and landless laborers • Caught in cycle of low investment, low productivity and debt • Limited knowledge on suitable farming techniques • Limited access to quality inputs (i.e. seeds, fertilizer, credit/loan) • Poor resilience to natural disasters and climate change • Seasonally unstable employment • Urban poor also do not have sufficient access to food. • Cannot produce their own food • Especially vulnerable to volatility in food prices • Periodic gaps where income cannot cover cost of food • Financing food with debt is common both in rural and urban populations.
  17. 17. Food Utilization • Many households in Myanmar do not have a healthy, balanced diet due to either low income, limited nutritional knowledge, or a combination of the two. • Effect of low income • Consumption of animal protein related to income (wealthier families eat more meat and poor are consuming mainly rice as staple food and very little animal protein) • Effect of limited nutritional knowledge • Unaware of cheap sources of plant-based protein and its importance in the diet • Meals are not balanced (more rice, less beans and peas, fish, fruits and veggies) • Food preparation (overcooked, undercooked, adding additional salt, fat and sugar) • Do not understand importance of good nutrition in first 1,000 day window, hence improper feeding practices for infants and young children • Information gap between food consumption and culture competency • Poor sanitation and hygiene practices in food preparation and consumption
  18. 18. Institutional Gap Analysis • POLICY • Many food and nutrition security factors addressed by existing policy within MoALI and MOHS • Gap: National Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (across ministries) is absent • COORDINATION • FNS platforms exist such as SUN Network, UN REACH, LEARN, etc. • Gap: Sustained and effective coordination requires an inter-ministerial, Union-level body • OPERATIONS • MoALI, MOHS and development partners are implementing a wide range of food and nutrition activities • Gap: Greater integration between food security and nutrition security activities needed • Gap: Wide-reaching and responsive agricultural extension and advisory service that is farm demand driven needed • Gap: Currently a high reliance on vitamin supplementation, while gradual shift to a dietary approach is needed.
  19. 19. Recommendations 1. Create a strong and independent monitoring body that reports directly to the parliament on implementation performance of nutrition programs. 2. Coordinate nutrition surveys and studies centrally to ensure consistency of survey methodology in order to facilitate the interpretation of data sets from different locations, target groups and different agencies. 3. Establish Food and Nutrition Security Committees at Union and State/Regional level and translate national policies into operational working plans for individual States and Regions. 4. Strengthen the understanding of food and nutrition issues at all levels of Government, from politicians and lawmakers to civil servants at state/region levels. 5. Include Food and Nutrition courses in the curricula of higher education institutions like Medicine, Nursing, Vet Medicine, Agriculture, and Education. Nutrition should be an examinable subject.
  20. 20. 6. In the short-term, continue much needed vitamin supplementation to vulnerable groups. In the long-term nutrition interventions should shift from a clinical approach to a dietary approach. 7. Renewed emphasis should be placed on national level awareness raising campaigns on proper feeding practices for infants and young children. 8.Prepare cities to cope with the current influx of rural labor. Municipal governments must develop and implement plans to construct adequate public infrastructure for water, sanitation and low-cost housing. 9. Ensure that Myanmar citizens are better informed about healthy food at household level through country-wide communication and information campaigns and activities targeting children and youth such as the introduction of school gardens. 10. Improve agricultural extension service to support crop diversification and assist farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Recommendations (Contd.)
  21. 21. 11. Increase crop diversification to lengthen the period in which households have cash available to purchase food and dampen food price volatility. 12. Change current agricultural credit management procedures and expand the input credit to all the types of crops a farmer may wish to grow. 13. Support opening agricultural credit to commercial banks, so that the agricultural economy can meet its full potential. 14. Produce a more diverse range of food locally grown at state/region level by creating a nutritious food production plan for each State and Region, with the direct involvement of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Department of Education. This will decrease transport costs and consequently food prices. Recommendations (Contd.)
  22. 22. Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition: Community Good Practices
  23. 23. UNICEF Framework for Malnutrition
  24. 24. Conceptual Pathways Between Agriculture and Nutrition
  25. 25. From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.
  26. 26. How to integrate Nutrition Information in Agricultural Program?
  27. 27. Cornell University Cooperative Extension Good Practices of the U.S. Land Grant Extension Systems Sustainable Agricultural Practices • Organic Farming, Integrated Farming • Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) • Value Added Agriculture, Value Chain and Supply Chain Management • Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition • Urban Agriculture (Hydroponic, Rooftop, Community/Backyard/ School Garden) Community Economic Development • Food Industry Direct Marketing (MarketMaker • Healthy Food Access (Food Hubs, Farmers Markets, CSA, Farm-to-School) • Food Entrepreneurship Education • Waste Management (Agriculture and Food) • Role of ICT for information and extension education Women and Youth Participation in Extension • Food and Nutrition Education in the Communities • Small Food Processing Industry, SME Development & Management • 4H and Youth Leadership Programs – STEM education , Hydroponic, Aquaculture • Agriculture in the Classroom, Youth Fresh Markets
  28. 28. Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition: Community Good Practices
  29. 29. Youth Learn about… • Hydroponic Ag • Entrepreneurial Small Business • Using ICT to connect farmers • Food Economy • Food & Nutrition Youth Participation in Food Systems!
  30. 30. Encouraging and Inspiring Agricultural Sciences Students Morning Class in the Field MYANMAR Food and Nutrition Education Yezin Agricultural University Nutritive-Sensitive Agriculture: Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition (2015-present)
  31. 31. Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Workshop MOALI-DOA-State and Regional Agricultural Extension Managers are learning about Linking Agriculture, Food Systems and Nutrition, Dietary Diversity, Recipes Modification and Food Preparation
  32. 32. Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Workshop MOALI-DOA-State and Regional Agricultural Extension Managers are working on Food Calendars for different Agro-ecological zones Food Availability, Food Accessibility and Food Utilization Exercises
  33. 33. Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Training Workshop with State and Regional Agricultural Extension Managers and Extension Workers of Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation
  34. 34. Food and Nutrition Education in Chin Communities Zion Baptist Church Immanuel Baptist Church
  35. 35. Upland Farming Systems Crop, Livestock and Aquaculture Intern Students learning Nutritive-Sensitive Agriculture, meeting with Farmers and Engaging farmers at Farmer Field Schools in Chin State
  36. 36. Eat Local, Seasonal, Fresh, Affordable, Accessible, Safety, Nutritious, and Healthy Food! Dietary Diversity & Modifying Recipes Food and Nutrition Education through Cooking Demo at Farmer Field School with Farmers, Community Members and Students
  37. 37. ICT based Knowledge Transfer System • Innovation & Enhancing the Quality and Standard of Agricultural Products • Village library, reading/ discussion groups • Viber groups of contact farmers for alarming pest management and weather information • Application (Mobile apps) • Farmer Channel and Call Center, TV, Radio • Facebook page • Ministry web site ( • Other mobile application (Green way, Htwet toe)
  38. 38. 21st Century Myanmar (Mobile, Internet, Social Media)
  39. 39. NGOs Educational Organizations & Institutes Government Organizations Private Companies Embassies Media TV, Radio, Newspapers CBOs CSOs International Organizations Research & Training Institutes
  40. 40. Efforts for Young Farmer and Green Agriculture & Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture • Knowledge Year (2018, DOA) • Capacity building program for Young Farmer Leaders at Agricultural Extension and Rural Development Training Center • Farmer led Integrated cooperative farms • High technology demonstration plots - Climate Resilient Agriculture • Integrated approach as one village in one township Efforts for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture  Initiation of the home gardening approach: Providing education on growing nutrient- dense crops, fruits and vegetables in home gardens, safety food production, food and nutrition education and healthy eating active living practices to farmers, farmers families and community members  Awareness for the pesticide risk reduction for healthy plant  Organic farming  Green economy for plant health
  41. 41. Objectives Regular access to and consumption of safe and diverse foods 1. Increased availability of nutrient-rich food products (crops, Livestock and fishery products) at market and household level. 2. Increased access to diversified diets through improved income. 3. Improved food safety along food supply and value chains to enhance access to safe foods. Multi-Sectoral National Plan Of Action on Nutrition (MS-NPAN)
  42. 42. Action Plan Home Gardening/ School Gardening • Project Sites - 2 Region (Ayeyarwady, Shan) • Types of crops -Vegetables (Seasonal, perennial, indigenous) • Types of adapted cultivation - Home Garden, School Garden • Nursery farms (DOA & DAR) - one nursery farms for every township Training • Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture • Sustainable agriculture (Organic, GAP, IPM, Post-harvest Technology) • Vegetables (annual, perennial) and fruits cultivation • Awareness training of seed, fertilizer, pesticide law Multi-Sectoral National Plan Of Action on Nutrition (MS-NPAN)
  43. 43. Nowhere is this more true than in the Food System: • It must deliver nutrition while protecting biodiversity; • It must utilize and protect natural resources; • It must ensure both human and planetary health. • Nature can no longer suffer from how we produce, consume and waste food. • If we significantly reduce food waste, improve farming practices and technologies, and shift our diets, it is possible to keep the food system within planetary boundaries. • Halving food loss and waste could reduce the sector’s environmental impact by up to a sixth. • Particular importance is dietary change - GHS emissions from food production could be cut by more than half if mainly plant-based diets with modest meat consumption were adopted globally. • Invest in and promote the development of technologies that address the needs of low-income and vulnerable groups including women, and promote adoption and dissemination of such technologies Key Elements
  44. 44. Good Nutrition Starts With …  Avoid oversized portions.  Enjoy your food, but eat less.  Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.  Make at least half your grains whole grains.  Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.  Vary your protein choices and keep them lean.  Enjoy fish twice a week.  Cut down on foods high in solid fats, added sugar, and salt.MyPlate
  45. 45. THANK YOU! Dr. Khin Mar Cho Country Representative for Myanmar International Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Specialist Cornell University , New York, USA International Ph: +1-646-578-2667 Myanmar Ph: +95-9-420078524 Let’s