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Driving Agricultural Innovations to Improve Nutrition

By Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

In recent years we have seen a shift in the hunger conversation. Nutrition keeps popping in. Study after study has shown that while there is still a worldwide hunger crisis, poor nutrition in addition to hunger is actually bringing down country GDPs, increasing risk of global disease, and crippling the next generation.

As the conversation gets going around a world of 9 billion people, it is critical that we make the conscious effort to include nutrition security in the food security conversation. The question of ‘How will we feed the future?’ becomes ‘How will we feed the future well?’

By applying a nutrition sensitive lens to global development work, we can improve the nutritional status and health of the world. So, when we apply this to agriculture, it has potential to improve the nutritional quality of food from the field, and our work in agriculture lays the foundation for all other nutrition interventions.

The Marketplace for Nutritious Foods

Nutrition-focused agricultural technologies can limit the loss of nutrients in food as it travels from the farm to fork. Initial investments in these new technologies will help determine which of these can be brought to scale and achieve impact.

Through GAIN’s Marketplace for Nutritious Foods (the Marketplace) platform, local agricultural entrepreneurs are challenged  to come up with creative business ideas that will spur sustainable production and access to more nutritious foods in their country. The Marketplace will empower local companies, helping to build more robust local markets. Increasing diversity and nutrition in these markets is key to reaching the most vulnerable and malnourished populations – because even the poorest of the poor buy their own foods.

Previous constraints to innovation range from lack of awareness to lack of resources thus inhibiting creativity. The Marketplace aims to eliminate constraints by incubating ideas, investing in them, and providing a platform through which applicants can network and receive technical support.

An independent group of technical advisors with knowledge in nutrition, agriculture and marketing will be responsible for evaluating each application and recommending awards. Selected applicants will receive support from the Marketplace in developing business plans though technical and financial andnetworks of stakeholders in the community of practice.

‘Inspiring innovation and collaboration’ – Partnerships are key

The Marketplace also inspires both innovation and collaboration through its growing ‘Community of Practice’. Working together and learning from others in the agricultural sector is essential if we are to improve nutrition at any scale.

Whether it’s the smallholder farmer working in their own field; whether it’s the start-up enterprise plugging away at their ‘big idea’; whether it’s the academic whose research could hold the key to unlocking improved nutrition for all – we must listen, we must respect, we must support and we must learn from one another.

By also acknowledging the power of communities, the Marketplace aims to deliver on its goal to bring more nutritious foods to local markets.

The Marketplace for nutritious foods is already underway in Mozambique and Kenya. It will launch this week in Tanzania. 

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition authored this post. This is part of a series of guest posts answering the question “How will you feed the future?” 

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