In September I participated in a workshop on nutrition organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC).
The purpose of the workshop was to consider how to shape the CGIAR nutrition agenda going into the 2nd cycle of CGIAR research programs. Discussions focused on how CGIAR research could contribute to increasing access to an affordable, nutritious and safe diets.
I gave a presentation on food safety trade-offs on behalf of Delia Grace. This presentation, and a shorter one I made, highlighted the need to consider potential trade-offs with respect to the ‘affordable’ and ‘safe’ dimensions of food, arguing that the usual approach to food safety through regulation could contradict our objectives of ensuring affordable foods, and the need to consider strategies appropriate to informal markets where the poor source the majority of their animal source food.
My contribution highlighted lessons emerging from the Livestock and Fish program regarding nutrition objectives. The first lesson being that it requires a change in mindset to focus from livestock mainly to improve income rather than as a critical source of nutrients for communities. Does it make sense to encourage communities to export their best nutrients to far-away markets? Does targeting livestock and aquaculture development to supply local markets compromise income and poverty objectives because these may be lower value markets?
The challenge for CGIAR is to devise new strategies for livestock and aquaculture development that can intentionally address local market needs, which may mean exploiting segmented markets, e.g. the best cuts are sold or exported as high value, while the remaining low quality cuts stay in local markets, or redesign production systems to produce more and smaller fish self-targeted to poor consumers.
A call was made to review what has been done along these lines and be innovative in generating evidence how research might contribute to developing such strategies.