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Title: Managing agricultural biodiversity for better nutrition and health, improved livelihoods and more sustainable production systems in sub-Saharan Africa : case studies from Benin, Kenya, and South Africa
Authors: Maundu, Patrick
Date: 2011
Publisher: Biodiversity International, Maccarese, IT
Abstract: Despite progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people in poverty and despite technological advances in the production of food, a third of people in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished or suffer from poor nutrition. The nutritional quality of diets in many African food systems appears to be getting worse as evidenced by the increase in micronutrient deficiencies, a rise in chronic diseases and low resistance to infectious disease. The health consequences of malnutrition impede development and the realization of the benefits of economic growth. Slow progress in addressing hunger and malnutrition may be due to current strategies, which have been predominantly rooted within the health sector and focus much more on “treatment” as opposed to “prevention” strategies that are sustainable, and engage agriculture, environment and community involvement. This project proposed to investigate how agricultural biodiversity can be mobilized to improve local diets and potentially, nutritional outcomes in communities within African local food systems. It also explored how combined agriculture-nutrition interventions based on local food, ecosystems and human resources can provide sustainable solutions to malnutrition. The research identified the actual and potential contribution of local biodiversity, and attempted to identify and mobilise biodiversity resources and biodiversity stakeholders by working together with local communities (particularly women), drawing on local and outside expertise in health, agriculture, environment and development, in order to achieve transdisciplinarity for better health. Overall, the research from this project demonstrated that rural communities utilized on-farm diversity and took up nutritious, new or underutilized crop species. The research also showed that both rural and urban markets are sources of diversity and that the demands for these foods is high. The data thus far is inconclusive in linking agrobiodiversity to nutrition outcomes, so that further data analysis is needed. This research project may also serve as a model in similar ecosystems and environments in Africa and other developing regions.
Project Number: 103648
Project Title: Managing Agricultural Biodiversity for Nutrition, Health, Livelihoods and Sustainable Production Systems (Sub-Saharan Africa)
Access: IDRC Only
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