In a session moderated by Dr. Mark Cackler of the World Bank, participants in the agriculture, nutrition, and health program session noted the importance of fruits and vegetables for diversified diets against a backdrop of the rising obesity epidemic in poor countries. To achieve this, they noted synergies with the program on crop diversity and bringing back underutilized or orphan crops and using openly pollinated varieties. This website discusses the critical importance of gender and childhood nutrition in this programmatic area, the quickly urbanizing population with associated diet changes, and food safety such as the health risks posed by aflatoxins. They discussed the need to build on past science, but also to broaden the focus from crop research and biological sciences to the social sciences.
“We need to start accepting the fact that science has not done a very good job of improving nutritional health,” said Benedikt Haerlin of the Foundation on Future Farming. “We need to really humble ourselves with regard to traditional knowledge, habits, and traditions.”
“The very good traditional food system in Africa has been completely changed because of globalization,” said Assetou Kanoute of ADAF-Galle. “We have to make sure any mega-programme on this topic takes into account what was there before and builds on that.”
Other participants noted the importance of partnerships and capacity building to fill in the gaps of the CGIAR, which is primarily a research-based organization, and the concrete outcomes that could be achieved with these partnerships. All of this will require advocacy and education campaigns.