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Updated On: Saturday, November 18 2017

Agricultural Transformations Needed for Better Nutrition

Photo: FAO Photo

Content by: South-South News

14 June 2013, New York, USA | Mathilde Guenegan - Fresh figures released by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) find that

, "An estimated 26 percent of the world's children are stunted, two billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies and 1.4 billion people are overweight, of whom 500 million are obese."

FAO's new report called "The State of Food and Agriculture 2013: Food Systems for Better Nutrition" advises that, "Improving nutrition and reducing [economic and social] costs must begin with food and agriculture."

The Report explains that at each stage of the supply chain (from production, post-harvest, to the consumer) actions can be taken to improve food systems and achieve better nutrition. For instance, food and agricultural policies must be implemented to promote food availability, affordability, diversity and quality.
The Report explains that malnutrition occurs as a result of eating a diet in which certain important nutrients are lacking. Otherwise known as under-nutrition or micronutrient deficiencies that when occur in excess or in the wrong proportions generally result in being overweight and in obesity.

Children, mothers and the elderly are most at risk. The statistics show that child and maternal malnutrition remain by far the highest nutrition priority for the global community in the immediate future.

And economic and social development implies the necessity for transformations within the agricultural system.

"Addressing malnutrition requires integrated action across sectors," said the Report.

Malnutrition is a complex issue to the extent that it has numerous causes among them being, inadequate access to clean drinking water and safe, diverse and nutritious foods.

'Malnutrition imposes high costs on society'' flags the FAO Report released in June 2013.

Malnutrition leads to productivity loss and increases in direct health care costs. Worsening a burdened global economy because these costs, "Could account for as much as five percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to US$ 3.5 trillion per year," warns the reports.

In order to tackle this issue and take further steps toward eradicating malnutrition, experts concur that intergovernmental initiatives that enable efficient economic, social, cultural and physical environments are needed; spearheaded by political support and action.

Aware of the national consequences of malnutrition, world leaders gathered in London on June 8, 2013, for a High-level summit called "Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science." They committed themselves to supporting "an historic reduction in under-nutrition."

Heads of State and Government signed a "Global Nutrition for Growth Compact", whose objectives are to improve nutrition for millions of pregnant women and young children by 2020.

The summit aligns with the Report's conclusions that, "Better governance of food systems at all levels, facilitated by high-level political support, is needed to build a common vision."

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