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Poverty reduction through nutritious foods

Worldwide, approximately three billion people have poor-quality diets and more than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Nearly 25 per cent of children under the age of five are chronically undernourished.

Malnutrition causes health problems and losses in economic productivity, including GDP losses. Over the course of their lifetimes, malnourished individuals can earn 10 per cent less than those who are well-nourished.

Without access to adequate, affordable, nutritious food, generations remain trapped in poverty, unable to take advantage of educational and job opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Investing in nutrition through agriculture is not only socially responsible, it is sound development policy and good economics. Its impact is multi-generational, allowing children to reach their full physical and intellectual potential, so that they can grow into healthy adults and lift themselves out of poverty.

At the forefront of nutrition-sensitive agriculture

Improving food security through better food production systems is at the heart of IFAD’s work. We design our projects through a nutrition- and gender-sensitive lens, helping rural people to improve their diets by growing and consuming diverse, nutritious, safe and affordable foods.

To combat malnutrition, we combine our solid technical knowledge with investments in nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture, through unique food-based approaches. We finance nutritional education and support actions that reshape food systems and improve nutrition security.

We also pay special attention to the role of women and adolescent girls, who make up a large percentage of the workforce in agriculture and food systems in developing countries. They are also the safeguards of nutritious diets in their households.

Empowering women by improving their knowledge of nutrition, as well as promoting maternal nutrition and nutrition of adolescent girls, dietary intake, and hygiene behaviours, can reduce undernutrition for entire generations.

Gender-sensitive agricultural projects help ensure women have more control over resources and that both rural men and women understand the important role that they can play in supporting good nutrition.

Climate change exacerbates the already vast burden of malnutrition and undermines current efforts to reduce hunger and promote nutrition.

As a result, IFAD has increased its commitment to providing resources for issues related to nutrition and is mainstreaming nutrition, gender and climate change actions across all of its programmes and projects.

We promote dialogue among concerned partners, including ministries of agriculture and health, as well as between other areas of government and civil society. This strengthens understanding, brokers collaboration, and promotes new pathways for nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture.

IFAD also taps into other reservoirs of knowledge and collaborates with institutions with specialized research skills such as national agricultural research centres and international institutes.

Worldwide knowledge-sharing and collaboration

Governments and development partners around the world are increasingly focused on nutrition-enhancing agricultural investments.

More than 50 countries have now committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a clear demonstration that nutrition is high on the global agenda.

IFAD plays an active role in the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), a platform dedicated to an open, substantive and constructive dialogue on global nutrition strategies and initiatives. The UNSCN is currently chaired by IFAD's Vice-President Michel Mordasini.

Food and nutrition security is both an indicator and a driver of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It is also an investment in the future.

For this reason, the scope of global malnutrition demands a robust and collaborative approach, driven by the local realities of smallholders and rural food systems.


Spotlight

Amidst drought and flooding, Malawian farmers look to diversify their diet

An IFAD-supported project is encouraging Malawian farmers to eat the food they produce - instead of over relying on maize and other food products that they are forced to buy.

Projects

Project

Benin

The Market Gardening Development Support Project
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Project

Niger

Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region
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Project

Laos

Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme
Read More

Related news

FAO, IFAD and WFP join efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean

November 2017 - NEWS
The three United Nations Rome-based agencies - WFP, FAO and IFAD - are announcing a new alliance that will unite their efforts to support the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty, boost rural development and move towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations Rome-based Agencies commit to enhance their cooperation in the Global South to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030

November 2017 - NEWS
At the Global South-South Development Expo in Antalya (Turkey), FAO, IFAD and WFP presented today a joint roadmap aiming at increasing their collaboration in support of South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

Food from healthy farms makes healthy people - New IFAD report

October 2017 - NEWS
Rome, 10 October 2017 –  Investing in climate-resilient agriculture not only improves food security but contributes to eradicating malnutrition, according to the findings of a new report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Related publications

Results Series Issue 18 - Do agricultural support and cash transfer programmes improve nutritional status?

November 2017

Cash transfer and agricultural support programmes are both used to improve nutrition outcomes in developing countries. This paper examines previous reviews of the impact of these programmes and compares the evidence between the two. The paper finds that, although there are about the same number of programmes of each type, many more papers have been written about the cash transfer programmes than the agricultural programmes. While evidence suggests that both programme types improved the quality of food consumption, the paper concludes that both types show weak evidence of improvements in anthropometric outcomes.

LANGUAGES: English

PARM factsheet

August 2016
The Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM), an outcome of the G8 and G20 discussions on food security and agricultural growth, is a four year multi-donor partnership between developing nations and development partners to make risk management an integral part of policy planning and implementation in the agricultural sector.
LANGUAGES: English, French

Food prices: Smallholders can be part of the solution

July 2009
Recent price volatility on international markets is putting pressure on global food security. For the 2 billion people who live and work on small farms in developing countries, life has become more precarious. But with the right investments, policies and development programmes in place, smallholder farmers have a huge potential to increase food production, improving their lives and contributing to greater food security for all.

Contact us

For questions please contact Robert Delve,

Senior Technical Specialist, Agronomy,  

+39 065 459 2843, r.delve@ifad.org