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A Global Perspective on National Nutrition Month
March is U.S. National Nutrition Month, yet nutrition is a global issue that significantly impacts food security.
When addressing the issue of food security it is important to determine the nutritional value of the food being produced. According to the definition adopted at the 1996 World Food Summit, “People are considered food secure when they have all-time access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” To this end, many organizations have taken the initiative to develop research programs assessing how nutritional food security can be attained.
Transform Nutrition, a program led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) asks three key questions on the topic:
- How can direct nutrition-specific interventions targeted to the window of opportunity be appropriately prioritized, implemented, scaled up and sustained in different settings?
- How can social protection, agriculture, and women’s empowerment interventions have a greater impact on improving nutrition during the window of opportunity?
- How can an enabling environment be promoted, and existing and enhanced political and economic resources be used most effectively to improve nutrition?
An answer to these questions can be found in research, which can be an effective tool by which good nutrition and food security can be attained. A 2011 GHI policy paper, Improving Agricultural Research Funding, Structure and Collaboration, highlights the importance of investing in agricultural research to improve the quantity and nutritional quality of agricultural production. An example of this is demonstrated through a research-focused partnership between the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and GHI- member DuPont. The initiative will help launch the development of biofortified sorghum, a more nutritious and digestible form of sorghum. A staple of the African diet, sorghum is a naturally drought tolerant cereal that provides calories and essential nutrients to those who live in drought-prone areas of Africa.
Food security will become an increasingly more important issue as the earth’s population continues to grow. The ability to provide the most nutritious food will be paramount to achieving adequate food security to meet the needs of the future.