Need to align agriculture and food systems to tackle malnutrition: Experts from South Asia

Experts also discuss on developing and guiding sustainable nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive policy development

The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, in partnership with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) convened a high-level South Asian regional consultation recently in New Delhi, India.

The consultation was organised in the wake of the newly created Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to support the development of improved nutrition outcomes in the context of food and agriculture systems. Participants comprised senior policymakers and representatives from organisations in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma and Bangladesh.

This consultation aimed at building a shared high-level vision of future malnutrition challenges in South Asia and a consensus on action by governments and other stakeholders to develop and guide sustainable nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive policy development. One of the principal aims is to develop a consensus and way forward for South Asia in addressing malnutrition in all its forms. The organisations partnered explored how the Global Panel might draw on this experience and feedback from the consultation to develop a new initiative, called ‘South Asian Policy Leadership for Nutrition and Growth’ SAPLING.

Ambassador Shyam Saran, Chairman, RIS highlighted, “South Asia is most ecologically integrated region and thus more interconnectivity between people from South Asia will help to address the regional issues of climate change like changes in monsoon, glacier melting and river systems. There is also a need to focus on energy, water and food as interlinked sectors in relation to the new set of Sustainable Development Goals.”

Professor K Srinath Reddy, President PHFI and Member of the Global Panel said, “Agriculture and food systems need to promote adequate, appropriate and affordable nutrition for all at each stage of life. While nurturing nutrition, we also need to ensure that agriculture and food systems are economically viable and ecologically sustainable. This calls for concerted multi–sectoral action at national and regional levels. SAPLING is intended to provide a platform for accelerating action to position nutrition within this integrated framework of sustainable development.”

Focusing on the agriculture, Professor Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS said, “There is a need to breed crops that are of more value in terms of nutrition. For this, increased regional cooperation and connectivity are required. We need to look at how we can make agricultural productivity economically viable and sustainable.”

Professor Sandy Thomas, Director of the Global Panel said, “Working together across South Asia clearly has great potential to achieve common goals in nutrition. The Global Panel looks forward to working with its partners on this ambitious agenda.”

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