Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Agriculture for Nutrition – Getting Policies Right


Prof. Prabhu Pingali

 Professor – Director
Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative

Friday, 7th March 2014 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

The past fifty years have been a period of extraordinary food crop productivity growth, despite increasing land scarcity and rising land values, largely due to the Green Revolution and more recently advances in biotechnology. Despite these massive gains in productivity and agricultural development, malnutrition has persisted across certain regions of the developing world. While southeast Asia has witnessed dramatic declines in undernourishment (insufficient calorie and protein intake), and micronutrient malnutrition, far less progress has occurred in much of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. And more recently the emergence of over-nutrition (excess calories leading to obesity and overweight) has extended beyond Europe and North America, and is increasingly affecting middle and even some low-income countries. These challenges, and the changing landscape of health and nutrition problems can only be addressed through designing and implementing enlightened agricultural policies in association with complementary policies for improved health, water and sanitation and household behavior change.

In the specific domain of food systems and agricultural interventions, we would argue that there is still a great deal of work to orient policy and programmes driven by nutritional goals, particularly with a focus on rural women and children. More specifically, we need to better understand and establish pathways between agricultural interventions and nutritional outcomes, particularly maternal malnutrition, childhood stunting, and micro-nutrient deficiencies. We argue that the agriculture-nutrition pathway can expand rural incomes and enable relative food affordability, increase farm productivity and expand calorie access and reduce poverty, and generate access to a diversity of micronutrient-dense foods through on-farm diversification and links between farmers and markets.  We introduce a typology of agricultural systems that reflect the particular stage of agricultural development and highlight the necessary agricultural initiatives capable of impacting micronutrient malnutrition, undernutrition, and overnutrition. Our typology includes subsistence agriculture systems, such as those prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, intensive cereal crop systems, primarily found in Asia, and commercial/export-oriented systems, typically seen in Latin America.  We conclude this paper by discussing key agricultural policy recommendations for tackling nutrition challenges within the above three agricultural systems.


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