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Can agriculture meet future nutrition challenges?

Malnutrition causes large economic losses and widespread human suffering. Recent food price increases have improved food security and nutrition for some population groups and increasing food insecurity and malnutrition for others. Although real food prices are not likely to continue to increase, the food price volatility seen during the past few years  is likely to continue and cause transitory food insecurity and malnutrition. Measures to correct market failures resulting in malnutrition are plentiful. This article addresses one set of such measures, nutrition-sensitive agricultural policies. Failure to explicitly consider nutrition goals in the design and implementation of agricultural policies has resulted in large benefits foregone. Although trade-offs between achieving nutrition goals and other agricultural policy goals must be confronted, complementarities and multiple wins are possible. The main reason why the market has been unable to effectively address the nutrition goals is that nutrition needs are frequently not reflected in economic demands. This discrepancy is caused by a large number of factors including poverty, household behavior and time constraints. The key nutrition-related role of policy is to remove the discrepancy. Farmers who change their production system to meet needs not expressed in demand in a market economy would go broke. [authors abstract]

TitleCan agriculture meet future nutrition challenges?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsPinstrup - Andersen, P.
Paginationp. 5 - 12
Date Published2013-02-01
PublisherEuropean Association of Development Research and Training Institutes
Place PublishedGeneva, Switzerland
Keywordsagriculture, malnutrition, nutrition
Abstract

Malnutrition causes large economic losses and widespread human suffering. Recent food price increases have improved food security and nutrition for some population groups and increasing food insecurity and malnutrition for others. Although real food prices are not likely to continue to increase, the food price volatility seen during the past few years  is likely to continue and cause transitory food insecurity and malnutrition. Measures to correct market failures resulting in malnutrition are plentiful. This article addresses one set of such measures, nutrition-sensitive agricultural policies. Failure to explicitly consider nutrition goals in the design and implementation of agricultural policies has resulted in large benefits foregone. Although trade-offs between achieving nutrition goals and other agricultural policy goals must be confronted, complementarities and multiple wins are possible. The main reason why the market has been unable to effectively address the nutrition goals is that nutrition needs are frequently not reflected in economic demands. This discrepancy is caused by a large number of factors including poverty, household behavior and time constraints. The key nutrition-related role of policy is to remove the discrepancy. Farmers who change their production system to meet needs not expressed in demand in a market economy would go broke. [authors abstract]

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