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Friday, 17 June 2011

Brussels Briefing: Addressing ACP nutrition security: the key role of Agriculture

The Brussels Briefing on “Nutrition security in ACP countries: the key role of agriculture”, organised by the Technical Centre on Agricultural and Rural Development (CTA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the European Commission (DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat and other partners discussed the need to link nutrition security to agriculture. The briefing assembled around 200 policy experts and stakeholders to talk about the problem of malnutrition and the actions to be taken. Participants represented a range of actors from embassies, international organizations, civil society and the Brussels development community at large. Dr. José Graziano da Silva, former Brazilian minister for food security and current candidate for the post of the FAO general director, presented the very successful Brazilian government programme “Zero Hunger” which lifted 24 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty and reduced undernourishment in Brazil by 25%. The programme, based on three main pillars - food aid for families, loans for smallholder farmers and land and structural reform at government level – shows how political will can make a difference.  In that context Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions have given a high importance to nutrition in the political agenda in the recent years. Other issues discussed include linking nutrition to value chains and providing incentives to traders to focus on crops with a higher nutritional value, mobilising investments in agriculture, especially in Africa and bringing the research to the most vulnerable, such as biofortified food. A special attention, speakers highlighted, should be given to women who are key players in food systems and produce in some countries up to 70 percent of the food that their households consume and sell. A number of studies have found that children’s nutrition is higher when women have more control over household resources.  Small-scale farmers also have a key role to play to grow nutritious food, speakers agreed. To be adequately nourished, individuals need to have access to sufficient and good quality food. Capacity building in nutrition education is therefore essential to strengthen national, provincial and local institutions’ abilities to provide simple training on basic topics related to food and nutrition in vulnerable communities. The presentations were followed by very lively questions from the floor.