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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid