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Reflections on the G8: Taking the Initiative on Commitments to Tackle Nutrition

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Over the last few weeks, Farming First has been following G8 discussions, providing updates across our blog and Twitter feed.  The landmark “Hunger Summit” saw world leaders pledge $4bn to combat child malnutrition.

This pledge was one of – if not the – greatest achievements of this year’s G8 summit, whose legacy has been to firmly place tackling levels of malnutrition on the global political agenda. Whilst addressing hunger has long been the key focus of issues surrounding food security, tackling the “hidden hunger” of malnutrition has been increasingly recognised as central to the wider food security challenge.

The UN estimates that there are 870 million undernourished people in the world, meaning that one in eight people do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Malnutrition causes stunting in children, affecting their physical and mental development.

On top of this, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) recently discovered that poor nutrition correlates to a loss of up to 10% of GDP for developing economies in Asia and Africa. Evidently, malnutrition has a significant impact on the growth of developing countries both in terms of the health of the population and the ability for economies to expand.

Moving forward, it will be the role of people and organisations at all levels – from governments, NGOs, business and community leaders – to build on discussions around hunger and malnutrition at the G8 to overcome of the world’s most harrowing problems.

Farming First has been collecting the views from a range of organisations on the role that agriculture will play in addressing hunger and malnutrition. Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) spoke to Farming First TV about the growing acknowledgment of nutrition in development discussions:

Finally people are starting to pay attention [to the issue of nutrition]…now we’re not just talking about food security, we’re talking about food and nutrition security. This shifts the discussion, where we’re not just talking about how do you grow more, and grow it sustainably, but how do you make sure it’s addressing some of the key nutritional challenges like hunger, micro-nutrient deficiency, stunting, as well as being over-weight and obesity.”

Agriculture has a key role to play in the fight against malnutrition and innovative solutions are already in action around the world to help find solutions. Last week, Farming First launched our unique “Food and Nutrition Security Interactive Map” which highlights the work of leading global and regional initiatives in action. All over the world, agriculture is already leading the way in facing this great challenge.

Farming First member IFA recently launched an infographic that illustrates how fertilising crops can improve human health. The infographic highlights that less than 20% of agricultural production growth by 2050 will come from land expansion and that 55-85% of soils are deficient in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, demonstrating that fertilisers are essential for more food, better nutrition and healthier lives.

Biofortification is also an essential part of the solution to ending the worldwide devastation caused by malnutrition. Ensuring that staple crops are bred to increase their nutritional value not only provides the world with more nutritious food but it also eliminates the fortification process further along the supply chain, so that smallholders have access to safe and healthy food straight from the farm.

Returning farmers to the centre of decision-making will be imperative if we are to effectively build on this commitment and create effective collaborations. In building on these important steps in tackling food and nutrition security, Farming First urges policy makers to:

  1. promote a clear joint focus on a common goal for food security at the global level through policy and operational coherence
  2. encourage increased transparency on how much of pledged funding has been committed and to what types of programmes
  3. engage a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that efforts are coordinated, clear, collaborative and ultimately successful.

To read more about our work surrounding Food and Nutrition security, please click here


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