Rome–A new report by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) says that investing in climate-resilient agriculture not only improves food security but contributes to eradicating malnutrition in families across the globe.
The Nutrition Advantage – Harnessing the Nutrition Co-Benefits of Climate Resilient Agriculture, a study of IFAD’s experience in improving nutrition in climate-sensitive agricultural investments, shows that climate change impacts in agriculture and the prevalence of malnutrition in rural areas are deeply intertwined.
During the launch of the report, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo, said: “For those living on land that is increasingly degraded, or at risk due to greater climate variability, what is grown is not as rich in nutritious content as it could be, which has implications for rural and urban populations alike.”
The research also points to the urgent need to sensitize farmers to spending their hard-earned income on more nutritious food choices which lead to better health outcomes for the whole family.
Some of the families Uganda especially the West Nile region, use their land for growing non-valuable crops hence not making proper use of the land. Recently, the Director for National Agricultural Resources Organisation at Abi-Zardi, Dr Sadik Kassim, said: “We have been telling farmers that even from half or an acre of land they have, they can earn millions of shillings once it is used productively. I am glad that some of our small scale farmers whom we trained are now making money from the rice they have grown on small-scale.”
A small-scale farmer in Maracha district in West Nile Sub-region in Uganda weeding his crops. Photos by Felix
The report also indicates that income-raising activities are also crucial to allow families to buy the food they do not grow themselves. Paired with nutrition education, the report shows the positive economic and nutritional benefits of a diversified approach.
Margarita Astralaga, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division said that promoting diversified, climate-smart food systems that take nutritional considerations into account can help smallholders to be more resilient, provide more stable incomes and improve dietary quality.
The report points to examples of where IFAD is working on exactly this kind of multiple benefit investment. In Sudan, that is predominantly a dry land, an IFAD-supported project on irrigation and land and water governance offered training on nutrition and food processing.
Among the outcomes, women taking part learned about the nutritional benefits of less commonly consumed foods, such as vegetables, eggs and milk. They also learned how to prepare more nutritious dishes, the importance of good hygiene, as well as the benefits of a balanced diet.
In the West African nation of Niger, in response to a harsh climate and land degradation, the IFAD-supported Family Farming Development Programme works with women’s groups to increase the availability of staple foods during the lean season and the production of foods with high nutritional value.
Activities such as grain stores for women and “nutrition gardens,” are emphasized to help promote resilience to climate shocks.