News / Asia

Agriculture Experts Extol Nutrition as Goal in Farming

Indian laborers load bags of onions onto a truck in Hyderabad, India ( 2010 file photo)
Indian laborers load bags of onions onto a truck in Hyderabad, India ( 2010 file photo)
Anjana Pasricha

More than 900 farm, health and nutrition experts from over 60 countries have gathered in the Indian capital, New Delhi, to discuss how agriculture can help meet the needs of the world's poor people.  The experts are calling on nations to incorporate health and nutrition as a goal in farming.

Nearly one billion people, or one-sixth of the world's population, goes hungry every day.  The number of malnourished people is even higher.  Food prices are spiraling in many countries.  And in many parts of the world, climate change is impacting agricultural productivity.

These are the key challenges highlighted by experts in New Delhi at a conference on "Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health" organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

David Nabarro, the United Nations special representative on food security, says the massive food price hikes in 2008 focused attention on what he called "structural defects in world agriculture systems."

"Food production and distribution does not really reflect what humans need to eat and instead tends to reflect more what farmers and larger food buying and selling organizations want to make money from," said Nabarro.

The conference is calling on policy makers to incorporate nutrition in farming.  Nabarro says increasing farm productivity alone will not address the problems of malnourishment as farmers tend to grow more crops like wheat and rice rather than fruits, vegetables or dairy products.

"We have abundant evidence that a major contributor to the high levels of under nutrition that remain in Asian, in African and even Latin American societies are due to the inadequate consumption of nutrients by people in all walks of life, not just the poor," added Nabarro.  "And one of the reasons is that agriculture has tended to focus on the production of staple products that are easy to develop and store, and not on high-nutrient value products that are much harder to store and more perishable."

Experts are calling on countries to expand programs that add vitamins and minerals to crops to address common nutritional deficiencies.

Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, says farmers should be encouraged to grow crops with higher levels of micronutrients like Vitamin A and iron.

"Bio-fortification or fortified food is one of the options in improving humans health and nutrition," noted Fan.  "One of the innovative approaches is through breeding, you can bring micro-nutrients to crops.  So you are not only going to grow more food, more crops, but more nutritious crops."

Experts want farmers to be given incentives to grow the food the world needs.  To do this, more investment is needed in the 500 million small farmers across the world who do not have money to produce high-value crops.

For example, says Indian agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, Indian farmers with small plots of land prefer to grow wheat and rice, because the government buys these crops after they are harvested, assuring them of a cash income.

"For them income security is very important," Swaminathan explained.  "The smaller the farm the greater the need for marketable surplus, otherwise they won't have any money.  What they do, they see where they can optimize the income from that unit of land they possess."

Experts say better storage and transport for crops after they are harvested will improve nutrition and health. They say nations must see agriculture as more than a food producing machine as it is linked to people's well being in many ways.

You May Like

Photogallery Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid