On 23 and 24 September, the CGIAR Science Forum 2013 on ‘Nutrition and health outcomes: targets for agricultural research’ featured a parallel session on the the economic implications of shifting investments in the primary production to better meet healthy dietary needs.
The session was led by Linda Fulponi (OECD) and Yuri Tanimichi (World Bank), and started with presentations of experiences in stimulating profitable production of and access to particularly nutritious foods: AVRDC spoke on an intervention to increase smallholder indigenous vegetable growing in Tanzania, WorldFish on increasing small fish aquaculture in Bangladesh, FAO on findings from new livestock data being collected in Africa, and the Livestock and Fish program on the value chain approach to increase availability and nutritional benefits of animal-source foods.
Livestock and Fish program director Tom Randolph described the thinking behind the value chain approach adopted by the program, highlighting the focus on improving productivity and efficiency in small-scale livestock and aquaculture production and marketing systems to both reduce poverty among rural producing households and improve food and nutritional security in rural and urban poor households. He also summarized the findings from a qualitative assessment of the nutritional impacts of a smallholder dairy intervention in Kenya that offered evidence of the complex relationships and different pathways by which dairying influences nutritional well-being.
The presentations stimulated a rich discussion about the role of single commodity interventions to improve nutrition versus the need to consider how to influence the overall diet. Session participants endorsed the need for systems-based approaches to understand how different foods and different food systems can contribute to improving diets at household, community and regional level.