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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    Women Voters Look Past Gender in Assessing Clinton

    She's the first female presidential nominee, but party identification, other factors outweigh gender

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora