This past year I worked diligently with colleagues at Bioversity International, on the 10 year nutrition strategy. Below is a summary of the strategy along with the link to the entire strategy. Bioversity’s Nutrition Strategy
One of the world’s greatest challenges is to secure adequate food that is healthy, safe and of high quality for all, and to do so in an environmentally sustainable manner. With the growing demand of an ever-increasing human population, it remains unclear how our current global food system will sustain itself. Compounded by climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity under stress, population growth and urbanization, social conflict and extreme poverty, there has never been a more urgent time for collective action to address food and nutrition security globally.
Redirecting the global agricultural system as the supplier of the world’s food, to ensure better nutrition is crucial. Now more than ever is it crucial to better understand our agricultural system, and it is imperative for research and development to start thinking about new and sustainable approaches to improving the quality and variety of food produced and consumed around the world. The role that agriculture plays in dietary diversity and nutrition outcomes is central and nutrition must be front and centre as a major outcome and goal of agriculture and production systems, as a potential avenue to improving dietary diversity, food quality and human health as well restoring or preserving ecosystems.
One area that requires further understanding is the role of agricultural biodiversity in improving dietary diversity and quality. Agricultural biodiversity is important to food systems because it provides the basis of sustaining life — the diverse traits exhibited among crops, animals and other organisms used for food and agriculture, as well as the web of relationships that bind these forms of life at ecosystem, species, and genetic levels. Agricultural biodiversity is the basis of the food and nutrient value chain and its use is important for food and nutritional security.
Bioversity International’s nutrition research over the past several years has focused on the role and impact of traditional foods on dietary diversity and livelihoods. The research agenda is being expanded under Bioversity’s 2011-2021 Nutrition Strategy to develop strong methodological and empirical evidence on how agricultural biodiversity contributes to dietary diversity and nutrition with livelihood and ecosystem downstream benefits. The new Strategy focuses on food and nutritional system approaches to improving human nutrition and health. The major goal of the Strategy and subsequent programme is to promote the use of agricultural biodiversity within food production systems and provide nutritionally-rich food sources that contribute to dietary diversity and, potentially, better nutrition and health. Our major focus is in rural and peri-urban communities in the developing world. There are four objectives:
1. To strengthen the evidence base for the role of biodiversity in nutrition and health and the means of incorporating agricultural biodiversity, specifically, into food and nutritional systems approaches;
2. To ensure the production of more nutritious foods through commercial pathways that reflect agricultural biodiverse practices and cultural preferences;
3. To determine what agricultural biodiversity practices and delivery systems work on the ground in development programmes to improve nutritional security;
4. To mainstream the role of agricultural biodiversity into public health and nutrition policy and practice by sharing evidence and providing local solutions.
Bioversity International will ensure that the role of agricultural biodiversity is monitored, evaluated and enhanced within food and nutritional systems of different communities with different socio-cultural traditions within diverse agro-ecosystems in a range of economic and political situations. There will also be a focus and emphasis on the preservation, conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and protection of ecosystems in the developing world that provide communities with the resources for productive and resilient food and nutritional systems. We hope that through this nutrition strategy and Bioversity International’s global research agenda, we can provide useful evidence, tools and products for governments, development programmers, value chain and food sector actors, academic and research institutions, health and agriculture workers, farmers and communities.