Fourth Policy Seminar Explores Obstacles and Potentials for Multi-Sectoral Linkages

IFPRI’s Annual Board of Trustees meeting offered an exciting backdrop for the fourth policy seminar leading into the 2020 conference. Facilitated by IFPRI Board Chair Fawzi Al-Sultan, the seminar featured the diverse perspectives of three leading experts from agriculture, nutrition, and health.

Agriculture is essential for improving outcomes, said Marie Ruel, Director of the Poverty, Hunger, and Nutrition Division at IFPRI, but alone cannot improve nutrition at a fast enough rate. She emphasized the need for interventions to accelerate change, citing HarvestPlus’ biofortification program, Helen Keller International’s homestead food production initiatives, and nutrition-sensitive value chains, as examples.

However, harnessing these linkages requires further research and knowledge. Prabhu Pingali, Deputy Director of Agriculture Policy and Statistics Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed the case of the Green Revolution. While its focus on staple crops increased production and access to food, it also contributed to emerging issues such as micronutrient malnutrition.

Another critical component is the development of a collaborative spirit between sectors. Kabba Joiner, Former Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), remarked about the inherently different interests of the sectors. Joiner emphasized the need for a more “entrepreneurial style” and the inclusion of youth in sectoral planning.

Drawing upon these presentation, IFPRI’s Director General Shenggen Fan closed with several key messages: (1) the importance of understanding growth patterns, (2) the potential of national policies to change behavior, (3) the need for a comprehensive strategy that effectively use available resources, and finally, (4) the importance of accountability at all levels.

Reported by Zhenya Karelina.