SEARCA joins UPLB, FAO-Philippines, and CvSU in championing nutrition-sensitive agriculture

By Xyrus Godfrey B. Capiña FANSSEA News

Resource persons of the parallel session organized by SEARCA.Resource persons of the parallel session organized by SEARCA.

TAGAYTAY, Philippines – The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food & Nutrition Security, as lead convenor, and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), FAO Philippines, and the Cavite State University, as partners, organized the International Conference on Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems. With the theme Strategic Approaches to Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in Southeast Asia, the Conference was held at the Development Academy of the Philippines, Tagaytay City on 7-10 November 2018. It aimed to increase awareness of various sectors on the nature and scope of Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA); identify the different opportunities, challenges, and issues confronting NSA in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia; and formulate policies and strategies to enhance NSA in relation to food and nutrition security. 

Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio sharing the session synthesis.Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio sharing the session synthesis.In line with the Center's Umbrella Program on Food and Nutrition Security in Southeast Asia, SEARCA organized Plenary Session 3: Case Studies on Integrating Nutrition into Agriculture. In this session, six (6) resource persons shared their experiences in establishing nutrition-sensitive agriculture not only to improve dietary diversities but also to increase farmers’ income. These include the following experts and their respective affiliations and papers: Dr. Marco Wopereis, Director General of the World Vegetable Center- Mobilizing the Nutritional Power of Vegetables; Dr. Leila S. Africa, Director and Professor of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food, College of Human Ecology, UPLB - Promoting Nutrition-Sensitive School Gardens and Feeding Programs through the School-Plus-Home-Gardens (S+HG) Project: The Case of Laguna, Philippines; Dr. Wei Fang, Director of the Center of Excellence for Controlled Environment Agriculture and Professor of Bio-Industrial Mechatronics Engineering of the National Taiwan University - Plant Factories in Taiwan to Promote Food and Nutrition Security in an Urban Setting; Ms. Emily Monville Oro, Country Director of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) - Sustaining and Scaling-up Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture; Mr. Rizal G. Corales, Program Lead, Integrated Rice-based Agribiosystems of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice - The Case of Palayamanan as a Strategy to Promote Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture; and Dr. Mallikarjuna Swamy, Scientist II- Rice Breeder (Biofortification) and Lead, Healthier Rice Breeding Group of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) - Achieving Nutritional Security through Development of Healthier Rice: Progress and Prospects.

Mr. Shun-Nan Chiang serving as chair of the plenary session.Mr. Shun-Nan Chiang serving as chair of the plenary session.The speakers, noting the disconnect between agriculture and human nutrition, highlighted various strategies to effectively overcome food and nutrition insecurities; improve farming practices; uphold food safety within a more secured market especially for the poor; and operationalize nutrition-sensitive agriculture by involving local actors and jointly working with other stakeholders in identifying and delivering appropriate interventions. They also emphasized the importance of establishing a baseline and consequently assessing outcomes to provide necessary evidence for supporting multi-level programming and policy development.

The plenary session was chaired by Mr. Shun-Nan Chiang, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz, and SEARCA Visiting Research Fellow. Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA's Program Head for Research and Development, provided the session synthesis.