By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
To help address malnutrition that is affecting about 15 million to 26 million Filipinos, an international conference on nutrition-sensitive agriculture will be held in the Philippines to help boost vitamins and minerals-rich food production.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in a tie-up with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will host the forum “Strategic Approaches to Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia” on November 7-10 at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in Tagaytay City, Cavite.
Based on SEARCA’s nutrition-sensitive agriculture study, the Philippines’ “food security ranking globally shrunk from rank 62 in 2011 to 72 in 2017 out of 109 countries.”
It added that FAO through its Integrated Food Security Classification mapped the entire Philippines as food insecure.
“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,” the study further pointed out.
Nutrition-sensitive agriculture 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,” SEARCA said.
“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,” it added.
Also supporting the conference are the Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food and Nutrition Security of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños and Cavite State University.
The conference will formulate polices and strategies to enhance nutrition-sensitive agriculture 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 micro, small, and medium enterprises are among the topics of the conference.