Stories tagged: malnutrition

EVENT (25 Nov): Eradicating Hunger and Malnutrition in our Lifetime

Farming First is hosting a high-level luncheon “Eradicating Hunger and Malnutrition in our Lifetime” at the United Nations (West Terrace Dining Room) in New York this Monday, 25th November, 1-3pm.

Participation is limited so please RSVP to [email protected] to secure your place.

Farming First UN flyerAgriculture should be central to the post-2015 development process and the formulation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Supportive policies are needed to encourage investments in agriculture and innovation that lead to food security, economic development, rural employment and national security. The intersection of food security with development is not only an immediate measure of hungry mouths, but also the long term implications on a country’s well being.

The luncheon will be organized in eight roundtables dealing with the proposed Post 2015 topics and have a roundtable discussion on the key metrics for that goal. Facilitators and rapporteurs will be assigned to each table to guide and record the specific discussion points which arise.

  1. End hunger and protect the right of everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food.
  2. Reduce stunting and anemia for all children under five.
  3. Increase agricultural productivity with a focus on sustainably increasing smallholder yields and access to irrigation.
  4. Adopt sustainable agricultural, ocean and freshwater fishery practices and rebuild designated fish stocks to sustainable levels.
  5. Reduce postharvest loss and food waste.

Please RSVP to [email protected] to secure your place.


Enough Food IF – Hunger Summit Pledges £2.7bn to tackle malnutrition

On Saturday 8th June 45,000 people gathered in London’s Hyde Park to campaign against the devastating hunger and malnutrition suffered by millions all over the world. The Enough Food IF campaign, set up by Bill Gates in partnershipwith organisations including Oxfam, UNICEF and Twin, aims to raise awareness of the main themes due to be discussed at the G8, including:

  • AID: Life saving aid is needed to help the world’s poorest receive vital resources to alleviate hunger;
  • LAND: Stop land grabs and enable farmers to grow essential crops instead of being forced to produce biofuels;
  • TAX: Companies need to stop dodging tax in poor countries so that people can free themselves from hunger;
  • TRANSPARENCY: Governments and big companies need to be honest about their actions that keep the world’s poorest in a cycle of hunger;

Speakers such as Bill Gates, Satish Kumar, Danny Boyle and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams urged campaigners to do their bit to end hunger and malnutrition, as well as highlighting the need to empower smallholder farmers. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said:

In the last 50 years we have seen huge progress, but still 20,000 children die everyday needlessly…just ask yourself what you can do and then go do it!”

Satish Kumar, a long-time peace and environment activist who has walked around the world to promote peace, urged the crowd to think about the rights of smallholder farmers around the world, stating:

Land belongs to the farmers, it should be in the hands of the farmers and not businesses.”

Empowering female farmers was also shown to be key to alleviating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, as women often lack land rights and access to the right tools and knowledge, preventing them from reaching higher yields.

In response to the Enough Food IF campaign UK Prime Minister David Cameron led a high-level hunger summit where £2.7bn was pledged to tackle global hunger and malnutrition. The pledged money aims to save 20 million children from chronic malnutrition, which is currently the biggest underlying cause of death in under fives around the world.

250,000 paper flowers were also planted at the event, with each petal representing a child’s life lost to malnutrition.  (see image below)


To improve global food security and nutrition Farming First urges G8 leaders and policymakers to:

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

The Enough Food IF campaign will continue in Belfast on 15 June ahead of the G8 taking place 17-18 June at Lough Erne Northern Ireland.

Find out more about global food and nutrition security initiatives here




New Publication Debates Issues Surrounding India’s Future Food Security

Last week, a publication by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), written in collaboration with Oxfam India was launched, entitled ‘Standing on the Threshold: Food Justice in India’. The special bulletin brings together the views and opinions of several of India’s leading practitioners and thinkers, as the country stands on the ‘threshold’ of the much anticipated National Food Security Bill, which is currently working its way through parliament.

Since the 1990s, India has seen enormous economic growth, with the OECD estimating a growth of more than 7.5 percent in 2013. Yet 46 percent of children in India are classified as malnourished, and 31 million children under the age of three weigh too little for their age, as identified in the 2005 National Family Health Survey. Today, of the estimated 925 million hungry people in the world, 230 million are found to live in India.

The proposed National Food Security Bill aims to provide legal entitlement over subsidised food grains to the poor. This concedes that it is in fact the government’s responsibility to provide nutrition and public health, as the right to food is directly related to the constitutional guarantee of a right to life. Yet the new IDS special bulletin aims to stimulate debate around a much wider set of topics that are vital to achieving food security, such as how to stimulate agriculture in the context of a changing climate and how to protect the land and mineral rights of the marginalised.

In a recent article on the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog, Biraj Swian, Oxfam India’s campaigns manager, commented:

If India’s second green revolution is to contribute to an accelerated reduction of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, it has to be a state-led project. Far from being old-fashioned, the state’s pricing policies, legal entitlement system, public distribution and natural resource management programmes are key to reaching the poorest of the poor. If food security is about having certainty about the future, the common goal must also be growth in agriculture and food security that gives the same rights on the land to men and women farmers.

Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director also commented that India’s National Food Security Bill could in fact serve as inspiration for other countries to follow suit in address their national food security issues:

India is taking the largest step toward food justice the world has ever seen through National Food Security Bill (NFSB). Although the Bill alone won’t fix India’s food system, the world will be watching to see if it can provide a template for other countries to follow.

The Food Security Bill marks a big step forward for India in eradicating hunger, as the bill will cover around 70 per cent of Indian households, the highest proportion of households covered by such programme anywhere in the world.

Click here for more information or a copy of “Standing on the Threshold: Food Justice in India”.



Sharing and spreading agricultural knowledge as a way of combating malnutrition

The first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. According to the World Bank report World Development Indicators 2003, one sixth of the world’s population suffers hunger due to extreme poverty. Part of the hunger problem that is increasingly receiving attention is nutrition insecurity, or malnutrition, which affects one billion people around the world and is responsible for almost 10 million deaths a year. With the increase in food prices, this number is likely to increase.

Agriculture must play a role in addressing nutrition security. Promoting and improving agricultural productivity and farming practices can bring positive impact on malnutrition levels. While technological and scientific innovation are key tools for producing a sufficient supply of healthy and nutritious food to satisfy the world market, another issue must be addressed as a priority: the problem of information flow. Education and knowledge share are vital to fighting malnutrition. Some independent initiatives have been taking place in Africa, as reported by Agfax, a radio and press service that reports on recent developments in farming and rural livelihoods, that are successful examples of getting information out to those who need it most.

Share Fair is an organisation that helps to spread and improve agricultural knowledge amongst African farmers through workshops and presentations at events; literally “Share Fairs”. In an interview with Agfax, Jacqueline Nnam, a knowledge-sharing officer in Ghana, pointed out that the biggest challenge facing African farmers is the “packaging of information”, meaning that the phrasing of the language employed and the jargon used – especially related to scientific research – are a barrier to effective communication. “Another thing is providing exactly the type of information the farmers want” says Nnam referring to the amount of information given to farmers that can be irrelevant for their businesses and may only create confusion.

Another example is the Healthy Learning Programme, run in the arid and semi-arid districts of Kenya. In order to ensure that information on nutrition and farming is passed on to the younger generation, the country is investing in health teaching for primary school children. The programme aims to teach kids basic knowledge ranging from hygiene to production of crops for food and for generating income. Children are also encouraged to implement their newly found knowledge at home. In an interview with Agfax, Veronica Mugure, a Class Seven student in Narumoru Primary School, said that the programme had changed their lives for better. In addition to learning how to grow and harvest their own crops, the students were taught to cook the food and were also fed at the school. Another student from the school, Veronica Wamboi from Class Six, said that the project had helped them on many levels. They benefited from the sale of the crops they harvested and were also taught business skills.

Understanding how to effectively communicate and share relevant information with farmers can have a direct impact on the production of food and improvement of nutrition as can basic education for tackling the underlining causes of malnutrition and hunger itself. Initiatives like the Healthy Learning programme and the approach taken by Share Fair are great examples of small schemes that can go a long way in combating hunger and malnutrition and addressing basic health education.

Selenium Fortified Fertilizers in Finland

Selenium is an essential micronutrient to sustain human and animal health. However it is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in malnutrition. Low levels of selenium (Se) have been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer in humans Selenium is mainly provided by plant foods (such as cereal), meat and dairy products. The content of selenium in food depends on the concentration of selenium in the soil where plants are grown or animals are raised.

In Finland, the soil is particularly poor in Selenium and in the past, the population in Finland has had high levels of selenium deficiency. In 1984, the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry decided to implement selenium supplementation through fertilizers to increase the very low concentration of selenium in the nation’s food chain. Since the 1970s, the National Public Health Institute has been monitoring the blood selenium levels of the Finnish adult population.

The effects of this policy have been monitored and the amount of selenium that is added to fertilizers has been adjusted twice on the basis of research results.  In 1990, the program was so successful in raising the amount of selenium in plants and, consequently, the human selenium status that the higher application was removed. Today, the amount of selenium added to fertilizers is 10 milligrams per kilogram.

Since the selenium supplementation of fertilizers, the selenium levels of Finnish foods have clearly risen, which has consequently enhanced the blood selenium levels of the population. As a result, the consumption of Selenium is adequate, and a satisfactory selenium status in children and adults is appreciated.

The Finnish experience of selenium fertilization is unique in the world and demonstrates the safety, effectiveness and cost-efficiency of this practice to raise Selenium levels in a population.  Such a policy could be replicated in other countries where micronutrient deficiencies in soil are targeted. For example, in New Zealand and some mountainous regions of China, the amounts of Selenium in soils have also been found to be scarce.

Micronutrient supplementation through fertilizers in Finland demonstrates the importance of fertilizers as an effective agricultural tool to improve the nutritional health of people in many parts of the world.