Knowledge for Development

May/June 2014 K4D Newsletter

Date: 02/07/2014


We are pleased to forward the May/June 2014 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. In this issue, we place emphasis on (i) improving nutrition outcomes and, (ii) reducing postharvest losses. Effectively tackling malnutrition (under- and over-nutrition) and postharvest losses are challenging policymakers, researchers/academicians, the private sector including farmers, civil society organizations and the development community. If we ask the wrong policy and research questions and invest resources in applying solutions without fully understanding the context, having adequate evidence and evaluating the cost effectiveness and efficacy of the possible options, no significant progress will be made. Linking agriculture and nutrition requires crossing scientific, engineering and sectoral boundaries and herein lies the challenge for policy- and decision makers, scientists/researchers/engineers and the private sector. 


In the 1st lead article in our new K4D dossier on “Improving nutrition outcomes”, Kimberley Keeton and John McDermott, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, describe the complex interplay between the determinants of malnutrition and themulti-sectoral policy and programme responses related to agriculture’s role in the provision of healthy diets. They discuss options e.g.; (i) bio-fortification of commonly-consumed staple foods as a possible cost-effective strategy for reducing micronutrient deficiency, (ii) enhancing postharvest and food safety knowledge and, (iii) improving household productivity of nutritious foods.  

In the 2nd lead article, Jan Meerman, FAO and Noora-Lisa Aberman, IFPRI explain the key factors that make nutrition a consistently marginalised issue in national policy making, and suggest potential avenues for governments to build cross-sector capacity and coordination. They see the challenge as being able “to activate and sustain a nutrition mandate within government agencies whose performances are evaluated on non-nutrition-oriented activities”.  

CTA, in attempting to identify intervention points for addressing policy issues for reducing postharvest losses, commissioned case studies on the postharvest knowledge systems. These were led by ACP postharvest specialists. Three synthesis reports; on cassava,pumpkin and rice are presented in this newsletter. What is clearly demonstrated is that reducing postharvest losses requires in-country knowledge and expertise, a sound evidence base and a good understanding of the types of losses and the exact points in the chains where intervention provides “the best bang for the buck” in terms of economic value and nutritional / quality benefits. If substantive impact is to be made, countries should start with priority commodities of economic significance and in collaboration with the experts, economic actors /industry stakeholders and governments, plan and implement intervention strategies for reducing postharvest losses. The CTA studies demonstrate that there can be “no one size fits all”. Seasonal effects, varietal differences, markets, customer preferences, ability and willingness to pay for the fresh or processed product, packaging, and transportation and communication systems all play a role in postharvest losses. Economic agents will manage the process to the best of their abilities and the prevailing conditions and will only make the investments as markets grow and returns on investment are assured and so too will governments.  

This issue of the K4D newsletter also provides links to other valuable resources e.g. (i) Bio-availability of iron, zinc, and pro-vitamin A carotenoids in bio-fortified staple crops by Michael R. La Frano, UC Davis; (ii) Local markets for global health technologies: lessons learned from advancing six new products by Dipika Mathur Matthias and colleagues, PATH, USA;  (iii)Agriculture for improved nutrition: The current research landscape by Rachel Turner, LCIRAH, UK and; (iv) Indigenous leafy vegetables in South Africa: Unexplored source of nutrients and antioxidants by Collise Njume and colleagues, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa.  

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