Digital agriculture is emerging as one of the most exciting new innovation spaces in the food and agriculture sector. From AI-supported decision-making, imagery services to precision agriculture machinery, robotics and mobile services, there is a high level of interest from consumers, investors and policy-makers in the potential of this new approach to help deliver a sustainable, efficient and secure food supply.
November 14 is World Diabetes Day. For the third consecutive year, Avena Canadiense is partnering with the Mexican Diabetes Federation, A.C. to raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and the role of diet in diabetes management.
The International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization began World Diabetes Day in 1991 in response to the growing health threat posed by diabetes.
Diabetes is a very serious public health problem in Mexico where more than 12 million people live with diabetes and half of them ignore their condition. Diabetes is among the leading causes of death and disease in the country. Having a balanced diet and physical activity are key measures to prevent and reduce diabetes.
If you know an outstanding individual working to make hunger history – why not nominate them for the biggest accolade in agriculture?
In the context of the 2018 United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF), the Permanent Missions of Canada and Jamaica to the United Nations and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) hosted a side event, Investing for Reshaping Food Systems, to bring attention to the importance of investing in reshaping food systems to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieve broad-based development. The side event convened on 11 July 2018 in Conference Room 9 and advocated key policies and investments to reshape food systems that can help us achieve multiple SDGs by 2030 – food systems that are efficient, inclusive, climate-smart, sustainable, nutrition- and health-driven, and business-friendly.
Learn more about IFPRI:
Three exceptional women in agribusiness have been chosen to receive the 2018 WIA Demeter Award of Excellence. The award recognizes those who have achieved excellence in their field or demonstrated an extraordinary contribution to the agribusiness industry.
The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) selected nutrition as one of its key workstreams for 2016–2018 and will have a major role in shaping nutrition debates in the context of the SDGs and the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) outcomes.
The PSM Working Group on Nutrition brings together key stakeholders from across the agri-food value chain, including farm representatives, businesses, and nutritionists. The Working Group follows closely the CFS work stream on nutrition and participates in the Open-Ended Working Group and the Technical Task Team on Nutrition.
Multi-stakeholder engagement plays a critical role in kick-starting new nutrition programs to address the challenges brought by all facets of malnutrition. Private Sector Mechanism members have been raising the importance of issues such as food safety, nutritional education and targeted interventions to address stunting and wasting. Nutritional interventions must be prioritised, particularly geared to addressing the needs of women, children, and the most vulnerable. This requires progressive programming and a willingness to work together. Innovation, research, education, and trade are essential to improving access to quality foods. All of which is underpinned by the essential role of farmers to produce the food we eat.
CFS44 will take place October 9-13 in Rome, Italy and provides a platform to discuss nutrition as a key work stream to be implemented across the whole agricultural and food value chain: from production of foods to improving storage and infrastructure, processing nutrient-dense food products and to clearly labeling nutrition facts. Improvements to the policy environment, market connectivity, land use, women’s economic empowerment, and adequate rural infrastructure also impact nutrition and health.
We encourage all private sector actors working on nutrition to join our delegation.
You can learn more about CFS44 and register here.
Stunting continues to be one of the most pernicious and widespread forms of malnutrition, having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations compared with other types of malnourishment. According to 2016 data, 155 million children under five around the world are stunted, representing more than 20 per cent of the under-five population. The majority of stunted children are in Asia (87 million) and in Africa (59 million).
Resulting from insufficient food and nutrients, stunting has significant consequences for human health as well as social and economic development. The effects last a lifetime, ranging from impaired brain development, lower IQ, weakened immune systems, and greater risk of serious diseases like diabetes and cancer later in life. Beyond the devastating personal impacts, stunting is also an enormous drain on economic productivity and growth. Economists estimate that it can reduce a country’s GDP by as much as 12 per cent.
Although stunting is almost always irreversible, it can be prevented by improving nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. The SDGs identified childhood malnutrition, in particular stunting and wasting, as key targets. In addition, the World Health Assembly established a target to reduce by 40 per cent the number of children under-five who are stunted by 2025.
Yet according to estimates recently released by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, malnutrition rates around the world remain alarming, and stunting is declining too slowly while the number of overweight children continues to rise. Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition.
This is why stunting, as a key limiting factor in growth and human development, should continue to be a top priority for global initiatives aimed at decreasing the prevalence of malnutrition.
In 2016, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) to the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) organized a Partnership Forum on Nutrition. During the Forum, we heard of three projects on the frontline of the battle against stunting.
Sustainability in School Nutrition Programmes
According to the World Food Programme (WFP)’s State of School Feeding study, 368 million children in 169 countries benefit from school feeding programs worldwide. The return on investment is substantial – for every $1 spent by governments and donors, WFP estimates at least $3 is gained in economic returns. However, in low-income countries, the proportion of primary school children beneficiaries is just 18 per cent, while in lower-middle-income countries that figure is 49 per cent.
The Tetra Laval Group has a long experience in engaging in public-private partnerships to develop school milk programs linked to local agricultural development. In 2015, more than 70 million children benefitted from locally sourced, fortified milk at school, providing positive health outcomes for children involved.
Swapping Cereals for Pulses: Improving Dietary Diversity in Ethiopia
Pulse crops, in combination with cereals, hold great promise in terms of meeting nutritional requirements for protein, energy, and some important micronutrients such as iron and zinc. As the second most important crop type in terms of annual production, they are important components of the Ethiopian diet.
However, there is a lack of evidence documenting the nutritional benefits of production and consumption of pulses. Responding to this gap, the University of Saskatchewan has identified barriers to, and implemented education programs on, production and consumption of pulses as a means of not only helping diversify the diet, but also to generate household income that could be used to purchase other nutritious foods. So far, the findings have been encouraging in terms of improving nutrition literacy, linking pulse agriculture to improving dietary diversity, and reinvesting income from pulses to meet household needs and to adopt new agricultural practices.
Putting dietary diversity on the plate in Zambia
Bioversity International has been engaged in a three-year “whole diet – whole year” initiative in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia, supported by the CGIAR Research Program Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS), and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.
Rather than focusing on a single nutrition problem, such as vitamin A deficiency, it considers that an individual or household can have many nutritional problems at the same time – for example, lacking more than one essential micronutrient, over-consumption of high-energy staples, or a combination of both. And these problems can vary at different times of the year, or at different times in a person’s life, such as during pregnancy.
Bioversity are using these findings to develop a combination of agriculture and nutrition interventions. These include:
- identifying crop diversification entry points for increased production of nutrient-dense crops including fruits, vegetables, groundnuts and legumes,
- establishing 30 demonstration plots in the 10 communities,
- producing educational materials on how to make the most of locally available foods to diversify the diet every month of the year, and how to prepare recipes using seasonally available foods.
Key messages were shared via cooking demonstrations on enhanced recipes with local cooking groups, where community members gained new knowledge on how to prepare nutritious porridge, for example by adding dried pounded vegetables to maize meal and adding cow pea and groundnut to enrich local dishes.
For more success stories on SDG2.2: ending malnutrition, visit www.farmingfirst.org/SDGs or search #Ag4SDGs on Twitter.
Featured image: Rachel Nduku, The Commonwealth
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched today its 2017 Global Food Policy Report, which focuses this year on Food Security and Nutrition in an Urbanizing World. The launch event took place in Brussels, on the eve of the European Days, on June 6, 2017, with the participation of SNV World and Welthungerhilfe. I was invited to moderate the keynote interview session on “International Responses to Urbanization”, featuring two wonderful speakers: Brave Ndisela, Strategic Programme Leader for Food Security and Nutrition at the FAO, and Gerda Verburg, Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations.
The IFPRI report shows a clear picture of the massive and rapid urbanization trend that is happening around the world and more strikingly in Africa and in Asia. By 2050, two thirds of the world population will live in urban areas. As urban population grows, poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition are increasingly becoming urban problems. The speakers addressed some of the priority actions that are needed to counter these trends.
IFPRI did a Survey (the results are in the report) showing that 73% of the respondents think the expansion of cities and urban population will make it harder to ensure that everyone gets enough nutritious food to eat. The speakers presented the scale and space of urbanization in the developing world and the problems of food security and nutrition that are growing fast among urban population. They also noted the opportunities, in particular more balanced linkages between urban and rural.
Brave Ndisela is originally from Malawi. Last year, the Government of Malawi launched a new National Agricultural Policy to improve incomes, food security and nutrition. Brave was asked if this policy addresses the challenges of urbanization. Brave noted that Malawi’s urbanization is going at a slow pace and this new food security strategy is going to help the country with early planning for improved rural-urban linkages and for early urban planning. Gerda Verburg noted that the SUN Movement works with 59 countries and 3 Indian States. She noted the need for local answers that will work on access and on consumer choices.
Plato said « Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich. These are at war with one another. » The pace and scale of urbanization are constantly creating a greater gap between the rich and the poor and this gap can be seen with the nutritional status of urban population. The triple burden of malnutrition exists now around the world in an urban context. Most of the urban poor live in slums. Hans Rosling once asked “Can slums be made history ?”. Both speakers were optimistic that a variety of solutions would be found to not only improve the lives of people living in slums through improved sanitation, public services, infrastructure and provision of healthier and more nutritious food. In addition, Gerda noted the need to provide rural youth greater opportunities in the agricultural sector to slow down the migration flow from the countryside to the cities.
The audience noted the importance of re-thinking food systems for agricultural production to respond to the needs of nutritional recommendations instead of public policies focused on subsidies for cereal and staple crops. Another comment noted the need to study urban diets closely, of the rich and of the poor.
More information about the speakers:
Brave Ndisale is the Strategic Programme Leader for Food Security and Nutrition at the FAO. Brave previously served as Malawi’s Ambassador to Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, The Principality of Monaco, and the European Union. She also held senior positions in government and international organizations, including the African Union Commission.
Gerda Verburg is the Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations. Gerda served as Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, and as Chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 17) at the same time. From 2011, she was Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UN Rome-based agencies. In 2013, she was elected as Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and in 2014 she was appointed as Chair of the Agenda Council for Food and Nutrition of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
During the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting held in Berlin on January 22, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, met with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr. José Graziano da Silva, and announced a contribution of $1 million to support international bodies that develop the standards for food safety and plant and animal health. This new investment will go towards scientific and technical work of the Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention, supported by the FAO, and the World Organization for Animal Health in their efforts to promote a safe, fair and science-based trading environment. This will be added to Canada’s ongoing financial voluntary and membership contributions to the FAO to support its work to improve global food security, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.
The importance of the Codex Alimentarius relies on the crucial role it plays in enabling trade in agricultural products that benefits both producers and consumers. One of its responsibilities is to set standards in terms of international pesticide Maximum Residue limits (MRLs). Recognition of the importance of the Codex’s role in establishing MRLs has led to recent efforts by its members to improve its functioning and, since 2007, the time of the MRL elaboration process was reduced from over 10 years to approximately 2 years. Yet, it is still too much.
Ideally Codex MRLs should be established soon after a new active ingredient or new use is approved by a national authority and in use on crops entering international commerce. For this reason, delays in the establishment of MRLs, or the failure to develop them, and the resulting lack of harmonisation affect badly market access, productivity and farmer livelihoods. MRLs are needed to make registered products useful to farmers who wish to trade, or must trade. If there is no Codex MRL in place, importing countries can apply zero or near-zero default tolerances for residues of products.
Financial contributions like the one offered by the Canadian government are very much needed to enable the Codex to perform its role effectively by addressing current capacity challenges and ensuring that adequate resources are available to supporting global food security.
Today we are celebrating International Women Day #IWD2017. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange! Being bold is indeed what women need to do to take their destiny in their own hands.
Change will not happen organically and it will not happen in our lifetime if all of us women don’t question every day the status-quo.
WE have to be bold to refuse the archaic roles assigned to women in the family and in the professional life.
WE have to fight for maternity leave, equal pay, equal treatment, and equal work in the home.
WE have to fight against harassment, violence and discrimination.
WE have to be kind to each other and show solidarity to all the women around us who may need our help.
WE have to teach our sons that men can change also be bold and take a stance every day for girls and women.
WE have to encourage women around us to be very bold and become politicians because they will shape the future laws of our countries for our benefit.
I am proud to be working for a bold and visionary company that is 100% woman-owned and that employs 12 women and 2 men from all regions of the world, all ages, so many cultures and faiths. I wish there were more companies like the one I work for. I wish we all had more female role models and mentors. I wish more women were as lucky as I am allowing me to live fully my life as a professional working woman while raising two children on my own.
May every day be International Women’s Day!!!