Agriculture, nutrition and health are inter-linked in many important ways. Agriculture produces the food that provides the calories and micronutrients essential for a healthy and productive life. In turn, the health condition of farm workers and labourers profoundly affects agricultural productivity.

Close to a billion people suffer from hunger, while another billion lack important micronutrients – vitamin A, zinc and iron, in particular – in their diets. This affects their health and productivity. Under-nutrition is the underlying cause of one in three deaths among pre-school children. Poor diets during pregnancy, breast feeding and early childhood have serious, long-term effects on adulthood health and well-being.

At the other end of the scale, a billion people are exposed to unhealthy foods. This is a major cause of obesity and non- communicable illnesses, such as diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.

Agricultural practices also have a direct impact on human health – for example, through pesticides which are harmful to humans, infectious diseases that afflict livestock and people.

In spite of the strong linkages that agriculture, nutrition and health have, there is very little interaction among policy makers and development agents working in these sectors.

Leveraging agriculture for improving nutrition and health, a conference organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in India in February, sought to redress this situation by bringing together world experts from the three sectors.

Certain key priorities have been identified for intervention: filling knowledge gaps, using effective communication strategies to increase awareness in communities, buildings bridges and networks - all areas where CTA is closely involved.

Michael Hailu Director - CTA

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