Nominations are now open for the 2021 World Food Prize – a prestigious international award recognising the accomplishments of individuals working to end global hunger. Continue reading
Solutions to the world biggest problems are never straightforward. Hunger has been rising year-on-year for the last three years, Malnutrition, whether due to undernutrition or overconsumption is also on the rise.
To discuss the way forward, ahead of World Food Prize week, Farming First caught up with Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro, winners of the 2018 World Food Prize for their work on global maternal and child nutrition.
The Prize recognises the advancement of human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food.
Farming First: The FAO have recently announced that, for the third year running, world hunger is on the rise. Why, in your opinion, is progress stalling?
David Nabarro: “The last time we saw a big upswing in the projected number of hungry people in our world was between 2008-2009. That was when there was a worldwide spike in the prices of a number of staples, particularly rice and wheat.
This was associated with political unrest in more than 30 countries – the change of government in two – and evidence of a return to increasing rates of hunger and malnutrition in our world.
After that year, levels have been coming down quite dramatically so that we started moving towards just over half a billion and then the number has started to climb again. this is almost entirely the result of of unpredictable weather in large regions of the world and conflict. Sometimes countries are blighted by both.
Lawrence Haddad: “When adults experience hunger, it’s a highly painful and a highly distressing experience but they are much more able to bounce back. Very young children are unable to because it has disrupted their development.”
Farming First: Is there something that we have learned from previous instances that you have seen – that we can put to use to reverse this trend this time around?
David Nabarro: “Nutrition is particularly critical in the interval between conception and a child’s second birthday. If I had a magic wand, I would want to be sure that in conflict situations there is real attention given to women and young children in accessing nutrients in the form of nourishing food in the early periods of their lives.
These are people who are hard-to-reach.They tend to hide inside and protect small children. They’re also often having to provide nourishment for their small children out of sight of violence. Markets that they depend on tend to be sporadic or closed.
I want to see that women who are pregnant, women with very small children, and children are treated as special categories in war situations.
If they’re not given preferential treatment, the long-term consequences for the child will be very severe. There’s been a low level of collective consciousness about the damage done in pregnancy and early childhood as a result of insufficient attention to nutrition in war settings.”
Lawrence Haddad: “This upward trend is serious but it shouldn’t detract from the incredible progress we’ve made in reducing that number overall.
It’s worrying that it’s been going up in the last three years, but we think we know why that’s the case. These shocks – whether they are climate shocks or conflict shocks or weather shocks – are quite predictable in many ways.
We know where the risky areas are; we know roughly when these shocks are going to occur; we know roughly who they will affect. The divide between the development world and the humanitarian world is also creating barriers. It’s largely a western construct- the way we’ve set up the architecture.
Ethiopia is a very good example of how the humanitarian and development sector can better join together.
15 years ago the Ethiopian government told donors that while they welcomed food aid, it shouldn’t create longer-term resilience against future shocks. The Ethiopian government at the time set up the largest safety net and social protection programme in Africa, food aid is channelled into things that have improved the resilience and productivity of food systems in Ethiopia.
It’s been very successful. It has an assistance function, but it also has a protective, resilience function as well. It has forced humanitarian and development donors into the same stream of thinking”
Farming First: The link between poor food and nutrition security, and global security is being discussed more widely now. Hunger, peace and security will be one of the opening debates at the Borlaug Dialogue. What role can nutrition play in promoting more peaceful societies?
David Nabarro: “There is always the possibility that lack of access to food can prompt conflict. The anxiety about whether or not people can get the food and the water and the other attributes they need for life is all too often an underlying cause of violent conflict.
When countries come together and see themselves as collectively responsible this in turn reduces the likelihood that they will enter into violence as a means of resolving conflict.”
Lawrence Haddad: “Most conflict is driven by inequality, or at least a sense of inequality. Work by UNICEF and others shows that inequality in terms of malnutrition is actually rising faster within countries than it is between countries. So inequality within countries in terms of things like stunting and anaemia is either not improving or is actually worsening – and we know that inequality is a big driver of violence conflict.”
Farming First: What impact will failing to reach zero hunger have on the 16 other Sustainable Development Goals and particularly on economic growth?
David Nabarro: “Good nutrition is key to the realisation of all 17 goals. Although nutrition is slotted into goal two, it’s an issue that cuts right across the whole development agenda.
It almost goes without saying that people enjoying good nutrition are realising the whole sustainable development agenda. I don’t believe that the goals will be realised unless nutritional outcomes are good for everyone in all nations.”
Lawrence Haddad: “The thing that makes nutrition different is that it is multi-sectorally determined. What drives malnutrition is everything from governance, poverty education, water and sanitation, to the health system, agriculture and women’s empowerment.
When you explain it to policymakers you don’t express it in terms of improved nutrition alone, but in terms of better and improved work. David and I have spent a lot of our respective careers trying to help nutritionists make the case for why others outside of nutrition should invest in nutrition for their own benefit rather than just nutrition’s benefit.”
Farming First: Are there any examples of success you’ve had in making the argument for investing in nutrition?
David Nabarro: “We’ve seen it a lot actually. The term we usually use is ‘why not make your employment setting more nutrition-sensitive?’ What we’re really saying is whether it’s possible to drive good nutrition in the workplace.
For example, can you enable women to have nutritious snacks when they’re busy hard at work making garments that or offering a facility for women who are lactating to be able to breastfeed or provide milk on site?
A focus on good nutrition often increases the productivity and the sense of wellbeing of the workers in a plant or in a garment factor or agricultural plantation.”
Lawrence Haddad: “Both of us are essentially connectors. We connect issues and people and organisations. One thing that we are good at is connecting nutrition with wider issues. We could connect climate very easily in terms of what decisions people make on what to grow and what to eat have fundamental consequences for greenhouse gas emissions.
If you’re interested in the youth bulge happening in many African countries, policy makers can make the most of the demographic dividend that’s coming through investing in good nutrition. Same with universal healthcare. To make it financially and fiscally feasible, you have to ask the question: what’s the biggest driver of poor health today? It’s poor diets and poor nutrition.
To make universal healthcare financially feasible, you need to invest in improved diets to lessen the disease burden of non communicable diseases before they’re more prevalent.
There’s lots of different ways of connecting nutrition to other things that policy makers care about. Policymakers have lots and lots of things to worry about and it’s the people who shout the loudest and the most persistently that usually get their attention.”
Farming First: How can we combat the rise in non-communicable diseases through striving to making nutritious and safe food more available, affordable and desirable for all — especially for the most vulnerable?
David Nabarro: “There’s remarkably little collective understanding that food systems are just not right and they’re not right in a very large number of places. The challenge is that food systems remain primarily local and there’s no top-down solution that’s going to work.
I’ve been trying to work with different groups to think about what might be a possible approach to encouraging the transformation of food systems so that they are nutritious and sustainable all over the world.
We need to shift from seeing food as a form of to seeing food as nourishment which provides the basic ingredients on which our bodies develop all their different capabilities.
How do we make sure that our food systems yield the kind of food that is needed for good nutrition? Secondly, how can we make sure our food systems will restore ecosystems on which we all depend – particularly soil, water, sea and oceans, forests and biodiversity? Thirdly, how can we be sure that our food systems are compatible with climate change and actually do all they can to absorb and sequester carbon that otherwise makes temperatures rise? And lastly, how do we ensure that our food systems contribute to decent livelihoods and wellbeing for all the people who work within them?
Those of us in the know realise that the people who work in food systems – if we look at them across the world – tend to be some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world. They’re particularly vulnerable to adverse weather patterns so we need to help them to be both prosperous with decent livelihoods and resilience in the face of stress.
Unless all of us are looking at that, we’ll find it very hard to make the transformation that is necessary in line with the SDGs.”
Farming First: Do you have any final thoughts to share?
Lawrence Haddad: “If we want to transform food systems we have to transform ourselves and our relationship with food and nutrition. That’s all very important but there’s one hard, tangible fact that we’re all grappling with and one we should be really focusing our mind and that is how we get the price of nutritious food down. if we don’t get the price of nutritious food down, it will thwart all of the other goals.
While the price is going up, the price of food staples is going doing or is static There are lots of reasons why that’s happening and that’s a very tangible way of focusing all of our efforts.”
As part of our “Agroecology in Action” series, Robynne Anderson, Chair of the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) focuses on how we can use agroecology to protect vital ecosystems and achieve zero hunger.
Fifty years ago, agroecology emerged as a discipline focused on studying the interaction between crops and the environment. Over the decades, it has helped increase our understanding of agriculture’s environmental impact.
16 October 2018
FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. Events are organized in over 130 countries across the world. These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. World Food Day is a chance to show FAO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve #ZeroHunger by 2030.
Hashtags: #WorldFoodDay #ZeroHunger
17th – 19th October 2018
The Norman E. Borlaug Inetrnational Symposium, known informally as the “Borlaug Dialogue,” each year brings together over 1,200 people from more than 65 countries to address cutting-edge issues related to global food security and nutrition. The three-day conference convenes a wide array of scientific experts, policy leaders, business executives and farmers. Through the Borlaug Dialogue, the World Food Prize Foundation helps build alliances in the struggle against world hunger and malnutrition. The theme for 2018 is “Rise to the Challenge”.
For the past five weeks, Farming First and its supporters have been sharing stories on how agriculture is helping us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in our #SDG2countdown campaign. We explored each target of SDG2 in detail, sharing quizzes, videos, infographics and stories of success. As well as being central to achieving hunger, these stories revealed that agriculture has a key part to play in meeting many other goals, such as gender equality, combatting climate change and water management. Read some top picks from the stories submitted below in this latest “Supporter Spotlight” blog. For more stories, search #Ag4SDGs on Twitter.
SDG2.5 – Protecting Genetic Diversity
1. HarvestPlus: It’s in the Genes
HarvestPlus has championed the development of iron-rich and other biofortified crops, which have been shown to improve nutrition and public health by reducing micronutrient deficiencies. Such deficiencies affect two billion people, causing long-term physical and cognitive impairment, and even death. This agricultural intervention will not only combat hunger, but contribute to goals on improved health and wellbeing for all. In order to breed new varieties of staple crops with nutrient-rich traits, it is necessary to protect the genes that have these traits to begin with. Read more >>
2. CropLife International: Breeding Better Crops to Save on Carbon
Improved breeds of crops that make the most of diverse genetic traits have helped increase yields by 22 per cent in the last 20 years. This has also meant an estimated 132 million hectares of land have been saved from cultivation, thus drastically lowering agriculture’s carbon footprint, and contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>
SDG2.4 – Building Resilience
3. QuickFarm: An Information Exchange for Getting Climate-Smart
QuickFarm has developed the Agroecological Intensification Exchange, a free, online resource for farmers to access advice on sustainable farming practices. Meanwhile, it is also promoting climate-smart practices through a Farmers Field School in Nigeria. Given that farmers are at the forefront of climate issues, having yields affected by extreme weather, agriculture interventions such as farmer field schools can not only help them adapt to new weather patterns, but also ensure they lower their own carbon footprint, thus contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>
4. Chemonics: Greenhouses Offer Haitian Farmers Year-Round Bounty
Haiti has suffered several dramatic weather events in recent years, from deadly droughts to hurricanes. Climate-smart agriculture techniques are being implemented to lessen the negative impacts of climate-related shocks. The USAID-funded Haiti Chanje Lavi Plantè (CLP) program, implemented by Chemonics, strives to protect hillsides from erosion through terracing and by setting up greenhouses to allow farmers to produce crops all year round. Read more >>
5. DigitalGlobe: An Eye on Productivity in Mali
By using DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery to track the health of agriculture systems in Mali, ICRISAT were able to evidence adoption of good agricultural practices. Analyzing crop health at the plot level provided an important insight as to whether or not those farmers were applying the recommended amounts of fertilizer. With this imagery, farmers that are adopting practices such as optimal fertilizer use are now able to prove they follow best practice, thus making them more credit worthy. Read more >>
SDG2.3 – Doubling Smallholder Productivity & Incomes
6. Shaping Up Shambas Boosts Profits in Kenya
Shamba Shape Up: Shamba Shape Up is East Africa’s favourite farming television show, watched by 5 million viewers, aiming to not only entertain, but to educate and improve the livelihoods of farmers across the region. The TV show effectively gives farmers a source of sound agricultural information. In 2014, Reading University, estimated that the total net increase in the value of milk produced in Kenya, as a direct result of Shamba Shape Up, was US$24 million.
7. Feeding the Soil to Feed Farmer Incomes
IPNI: Indian farmers have been looking for less water-intensive crops to farms than rice, but balanced nutrient supply and improving soil health has proved to be a big challenge for those attempting to grow maize and other grains. In West Bengal, IPNI discovered that while nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient, addition of potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc were found to add US$80 – $290/ha to the income of farmers growing maize. Similar responses were also recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. By boosting productivity and incomes, goals to reduce poverty are also tackled. Read more >>
8. Farm Africa: Bumper Harvest for New Crop of Farmers
A private-public collaboration between supermarket chain Aldi and Farm Africa has established 21 demonstration plots, where young farmers have learnt practical skills for growing mangetouts, French beans, cabbages, kale and chilli peppers. Almost 400 young farmers, from Kitale in western Kenya, are now benefiting from the fundamental agricultural skills and practices learnt including: crop rotation, irrigation, planting, harvesting and pest management. The first harvests this year have seen bumper yields, with 96,500kg of cabbages and 37,200kg of French beans grown by the first group of 118 farmers to have completed a growing cycle so far. The first vegetables to have been sold achieved impressive profit margins of 62 per cent for cabbages and 50 per cent for French beans. Read more >>
SDG2.2 – Ending Malnutrition
9. IFDC: Getting Nutrition “Just Right” in Ethiopia
IFDC’s Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) project partnered with Ethiopian food processing company GUTS Agro to create a marketing strategy for Super Mom, a high-protein corn-soy food product for young children and pregnant and nursing mothers. To make this product affordable for low-income consumers, 2SCALE assisted in developing the “Likie” distribution model. The Likie model (which means “just the right size” in Amharic) engages women in micro-franchisees to deliver the product door-to-door on branded tricycles and provide education on nutrition and other topics. After an investment as low as $5, these women typically net $47 within the first few months, and some have reported sales as high as $500 per month, contributing to goals on nutrition and employment.
10. Technoserve: Growing Gardens for Gender Goals
Encouraging women in Rajasthan, India, to start kitchen gardens has improved their families’ nutrition by adding fresh produce that was previously out of reach because of a lack of refrigeration. It has also help redefine women’s role in their households, thereby not only contributing to goals on nutrition, but gender equality too. Read more >>
11. One Acre Fund: Helping Achieve Double Win of Beating Drought and Malnutrition
One Acre Fund is working with farmers to enable them to feed their families, despite the onslaught of climate change. OAF trainings stress the importance of crop diversity and soil health. They advise farmers to rotate crops, compost, and use intercropping planting techniques that benefit soils. If farmers plant many different types of crops, they’re better protected in extreme weather if one crop fails, meaning they and their families won’t face a hunger season. Read more >>
SDG2.1 – Ending Hunger
12. Fintrac / CropLife International: Sweet Success for Strawberry Farmers
The USAID/ACCESO project in Honduras has helped farmers learn sustainable agricultural practices, give them access to inputs, such as seeds and crop protection, and link them to secure markets. Between 2011 and 2015 more than 6,000 smallholder farmers were lifted out of poverty and the prevalence of underweight children under two-years-old decreased by 50 percent as their diet improved. Read more >>
13. Self Help Africa: Two Village Project Transforms Lives
In Zambia, SHA’s three year project based in two remote villages in the Northern Province, saw a rise in access to sufficient food – from 57% at the start of the project, to 67% currently. Furthermore, 28% of children in the area are now receiving at least the minimum food diversity in their diets, compared to 17% before. The key foundations of the project were access to saving and credit groups, access to training as well as equal support for women. Read more >>
14. CNFA: One Stop Shops for Ending Hunger
In Ethiopia, six privately-owned input supply stores created under the USAID-funded Commercial Farm Service Center Program and supported by CNFA have now served more than 24,800 farmer customers, generated $1.3 million in private sector investment, and sold more than $2.7 million worth of seeds, feed, fertilizer, farm implements, veterinary medicines, and plant protection products. These “one stop shops” are equipping farmers with all they need to boost their productivity and incomes, and thereby helping to lift communities out of poverty. Read more >>
Featured image: One Acre Fund