International conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture to help boost nutrition-rich food production, cut malnutrition that affect 15-25% of population

  • 4 November 2018

Source: Dispatch Today
4 Nov 2018

An international conference on Nutrition-sensitive Agriculture (NSA) will be held in the Philippines to help boost vitamins and minerals-rich food production and cut malnutrition that's adversely affecting 15-25% of 105 million Filipinos.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in a tieup with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will host "Strategic Approaches to Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia" on Nov. 7-10, 2018.

"Our food security ranking globally shrunk from rank 62 in 2011 to 72 in 2017 out of 109 countries. FAO through its Integrated Food Security Classification mapped the entire Philippines as food insecure," according to a SEARCA NSA primer.

"Food security is continuously challenged by poor agricultural productivity brought about by climate change, environmental degradation, higher input cost, low farm income and lack of competitiveness."

NSA is a concept that has recently emerged in light of the pervasiveness of malnutrition especially in developing countries as the Philippines.

It seeks to maximize a farming system that enhances nutritional supply especially in impoverished areas through provision of a variety of affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate and safe food.

"It is generally recognized that addressing malnutrition requires an integrative approach in the food chain from production, processing, retail to consumption," said SEARCA.

"Making agriculture and food systems nutrition-sensitive also requires that we have to address input quality, production, post-harvest handling, processing, retailing and consumption, and to deliver safe and nutritious foods all year round to the consumer."

Also supporting the conference are the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food and Nutrition Security of the University of the PHIlippines Los Banos and Cavite State University (CvSU).

The conference will formulate polices and strategies to enhance NSA in relation to food and nutrition security.

In line with Food and Nutrition Security program in Southeast Asia, SEARCA has put in sessions on case studies on integrating nutrition into agriculture. It will focus success stories of addressing nutrition across stages of the food system.

Fisheries production—aquaponics, organic food farming, hydroponics, agricultural biotechnology, potato and mushroom production, nutrition in vegetables, plant factories in urban setting, Palaymanan, rice-corn blend for diabetics, and development of MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) are among the topics of the conference.

Dr. Marco Wopereis, Director General of the World Vegetable Center, will speak on nutritional power of vegetables; Dr. Leila S. Africa of Human Ecology-Institute of Human Nutrition and Food will present outcomes of Promoting Nutrition-Sensitive School Gardens and Feeding Programs through the School-Plus-Home-Gardens Project (in Laguna).

Dr. Wei Fang, director of the Center of Excellence for Controlled Environment Agriculture and Professor of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering of the National Taiwan University, will discuss how plant factories in Taiwan to promote food and nutrition security in an urban setting.

Other speakers are International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) Country Director Emily Monville (sustaining and scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agriculture); Rizal G. Corales, program lead, Integrated Rice-based Agribiosystems of Philrice, (Palayamanan as a strategy to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture); and Dr. Mallikarjuna Swamy, Healthier Rice Breeding Group of the International Rice Research Institute (nutritional security through development of healthier rice).