Communiqués

Media room

EC, FAO, the World Bank Group and CTA launch framework for joint action on agriculture and nutrition

November 20, 2014

Today, CTA’s Director, Michael Hailu, launched "Agriculture and nutrition: A common future" at a side event at the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome. 

This publication presents a framework for joint action by the European Union, FAO, the World Bank Group and CTA to promote agriculture for improving nutrition outcomes. It lays out how the four organisations will align their efforts to deliver concrete actions that make a difference to those most affected by malnutrition.

“The world has made progress in reducing some aspects of under-nutrition in recent years,” Michael Hailu said, “particularly in reducing stunting and wasting. But under-nutrition is still rampant – more than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, and 9 million people still die each year as a result of hunger and malnutrition. And paradoxically, obesity is on the rise, even in sub- Saharan Africa.”

Malnutrition also brings with it enormous economic costs: globally, child malnutrition costs the world economy more than US$100 billion per year. The Framework identifies three strategic priorities that the partners will address through their joint efforts:

  • Enhancing resource mobilisation and political commitment to strengthen the link between food and agricultural systems and nutrition;
  • Scaling up proven nutrition-sensitive food and agriculture interventions at country level;
  • Increasing knowledge and evidence to maximise the impact of food and agricultural systems on nutrition.

“There are real imbalances in the way we deal with the over-arching issue of malnutrition” Michael Hailu noted. 

For many years, agricultural development efforts have focused only on increasing production of staples and driving down the cost of food calories. The result has been little or no emphasis on dietary diversity – one of the key drivers of good nutrition. 

This is in large part a consequence of a lack of awareness of the importance of agriculture to nutrition and food security, and a lack of evidence to support this nexus. 

We are now seeing the consequences. Malnutrition is increasing, particularly among poorer segments of the population, while better off people are over- acquiring foods, leading to both overconsumption (and resultant obesity problems) and increasing food waste. A third of the food we produce each year now goes to waste. 

Fortunately, there is now growing awareness that efforts to address malnutrition through nutrition-specific interventions such as vitamin and mineral supplementation and complementary feeding are not the whole solution – we need to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to nutrition-sensitive development. This calls for incorporating explicit nutrition objectives in agricultural programmes and policies, a focus on ensuring access to safe, nutritious food for all, and attention to equity issues and economic, social and environmental resilience of food systems. 

“This Framework reinforces our intention to promote agriculture for improving nutrition outcomes and illustrates how our commitment is being transformed into concrete actions,” Michael Hailu said. “By ensuring that partner countries hear the same messages from all four organisations and see us pursuing the same objectives, it will lead to more clarity and efficiency and, we believe, greater impact. 

“Together, we will work to make a difference on the ground to help those most affected by malnutrition.” 

[Ends]

For more information, please contact:

Stéphane Gambier
Senior Programme Coordinator for Communications (CTA)
gambier@cta.int

Resources:

  • Framework for joint action "Agriculture and nutrition: A common future
  • Presentation of the Framework for joint action "Agriculture and nutrition: A common future” by CTA’s Director, Michael Hailu http://ow.ly/EFDZQ
  • To learn more about the Framework, watch FAO's webcast of the ICN2 Side-event on Agricultural Policies and Food Systems for Improved Nutrition and scroll to 36:53.
  • Visit the ICN2 Conference's photo gallery
  • Join the live discussion on Twitter: #icn2