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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.