Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.
Photo: J. Boethling

22.03.2016

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That agriculture can play a crucial role in the fight against malnutrition is no new insight. But what has to be done for agriculture to adequately fulfil this vital role? Our author reports on the state of debate and presents the multiple entry points and top priorities for nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

The last five years have seen a groundswell of interest in improving nutrition through agriculture, globally and within countries. Countries and donors have committed both rhetorically and financially to nutrition-sensitive agriculture (e.g. the Nutrition for Growth commitments, the commitments of the Second International Conference on Nutrition [ICN2], and the UN Sustainable Development Goals). These commitments reflect recognition that food systems do not satisfy the nutritional needs of all, and that malnutrition cannot be solved by therapeutic interventions alone. Commitments, however, need to be followed through with action. This overview briefly presents the multiple entry points and top priorities for nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

As the main producer of food, agriculture has a role in providing access for all to safe, nutritious sufficient food to meet dietary needs year round. Since that is the definition of food security (see box), “nutrition-sensitive agriculture” is not so much a new concept as an emphasis on a central rationale for agricultural development.

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