Knowledge for Development

Related developments

Rice fortification through soaking’ method

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is testing a new rice fortification technique in Bangladesh to enrich it with the vital nutrient zinc. While zinc fortified fertiliser is available, only 30-40% of farmers use it, and 70-80% of zinc fertiliser is of sub-par quality. In rice’s journey from farm to fork, milling and polishing also removes the zinc from rice. As the most consolidated part of the farm-to-fork process, mills have the greatest potential reach. This is where GAIN is exploring increasing the nutrient density of rice through ‘fortifying at soak’. Fortifying at soak is the process of adding micronutrients to the water rice soaks in at the mill. By adding nutrients to the soaking water the rice absorbs the nutrient directly into the grain avoiding the removal of the nutrients during milling and polishing.   (The Guardian, 18/03/2014)


Biochemical and nutritional properties of baobab pulp from endemic species of Madagascar and the African mainland

Cissé Ibrahima and colleagues from the Institut National d'Hygiène Publique (INHP, Côte d'Ivoire) and CIRAD, studied the biochemical characteristics of the fruit pulp of five endemic baobab species from Madagascar and one from Côte d’Ivoire. Contents in vitamin C, polyphenols, lipids, proteins and minerals were evaluated. Comparing the results for each species, the researchers found high variability in biochemical characteristics and mineral content between the various species. None of them could be identified as a clear all-round winner. To date, despite the baobab fruit's nutritional importance, the lack of knowledge on pulp preservation causes loss. Future research should focus on increasing the pulp storage time while preserving its nutrition value.    (African Journal of Agricultural Research, 12/11/2013)   


Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come – SUNRAY project findings

SUNRAY was a collaborative effort by 4 European universities, 4 universities from sub-Saharan Africa, a non-governmental organisation and a institution that funds research in Africa to identify priorities for nutrition research in sub-Saharan Africa. SUNRAY was conducted from January 2010 until December 2012. The findings are summarised in a number of manuscripts. A paper summarises the findings of the SUNRAY on priorities for nutrition research and enabling environment is published in Plos Medicine. The views of African researchers on how the operating environment for nutrition research can be improved in sub-Saharan Africa were published in PLOS ONE. As an outcome of this SUNRAY, a Roadmap for nutrition research in sub-Saharan Africa was circulated for consultation internationally.     The priority areas identified for nutrition research were (i) community interventions to improve nutritional status, (ii) behavioural strategies to improve nutritional status, and (iii) food security interventions to improve nutrition. The priority actions identified for creating an enabling nutrition research environment were (i) better governance of nutrition research, (ii) alignment of nutrition research funding with priorities identified within SSA, (iii) increased capacity development for nutrition research competencies, and (iv) enhanced information sharing and communication of nutrition research findings.     (SUNRAY initiative, 28/01/2014)   


Discussion paper: What is a sustainable healthy diet?

In this paper, Tara Garnett, of the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN, UK), considers the increasingly topical question of 'What is a sustainable healthy diet?' She begins by highlighting the rationale for focusing on the diets question, and then moves on to discussing definitions of ‘good nutrition’ on the one hand, and ‘sustainability’ on the other.  The main substance of her argument focus on the major food groups that constitute UK’s Eat-well plate, examining the health and sustainability issues that their consumption raises.  She also included a review of recent studies in this area. An important limitation of her paper is that it focuses largely on developed country contexts. Being a discussion paper, FCRN is looking for input from members in low income and emerging economies, where the sustainability and health issues play out very differently.   (FCRN, 04/2014)   


Local markets for global health technologies: lessons learned from advancing six new products

In this article, Dipika Mathur Matthias and colleagues from PATH (an international NGO based in the USA) present six case studies of technologies recently introduced into developing-country markets, among which is the 'Ultra Rice' fortification technology (a formulation and method for creating reconstituted rice grain packed with micronutrients). Using a market introduction framework, Matthias et al. highlight key elements that may have contributed to varying degrees of success and to certain challenges in the target markets, in particular in those of the 'local institutional' type and 'consumer' type. The case study of Ultra Rice introduction in Brazilian consumer markets reveals the importance of closely coordinating the various introduction pathways as well as building sustainability into the product introduction from the outset. In Brazil, planning for sustainability required identifying the array of local organisations that can take ownership of the product and laying out the market development process well before donors exit. Lessons learned from introducing global technologies into local markets include: build supply and demand simultaneously, consider the need for one lead/coordinating organisation, have a strong vision and intention to reach scale, pay strong attention to the incentives for profitability of the private sector. (Global Health: Science and Practice, 2014)


What risks do agricultural interventions entail for nutrition?

Sandrine Dury, researcher at UMR MOISA, CIRAD, France, and colleagues conducted a review of scientific papers and institutional reports as well as expert interviews to explore the potential negative This review shows that certain agricultural interventions that are successful for certain aspects (production, income, etc.) may have unexpected negative effects on nutrition. The relations between agriculture and nutrition are eminently complex, the risks vary depending on the nature and context of the intervention and no recommendation can be made in absolute terms. Nevertheless, a few principles of caution can be applied: (i) identify and keep track of nutritional risks throughout the life span of the intervention; (ii) promote diversification to prevent risks linked to specialisation of farming systems and incomes; (iii) encourage practices with low labour requirements and activities enabling women to increase their autonomy; (iv) set in place good practices known to enable a reduction in health risks; (v) anticipate potential exclusion effects of interventions, and pay specific attention to vulnerable groups. Overall, by ensuring coordination between sectors when designing and implementing interventions, it is possible to identify and manage some aspects that the agricultural sector can hardly tackle alone.(UMR MOISA, 03/2014)


Agriculture for improved nutrition: The current research landscape

This review led by Rachel Turner, affiliated with the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, LCIRAH, UK maps the extent and nature of current and planned research on agriculture for improved nutrition in order to identify gaps where more research might be useful. Gaps were identified in research extending through the direct pathway from agriculture to nutrition, through the food value chain and including measurements of the food environment, individual food intake or dietary diversity, infant and young feeding practices, and nutritional status. There were also critical gaps in research on the indirect effects of changes in agricultural practices on nutrition, acting through income and economic growth; on the effects of agricultural policy change on nutrition; on governance as it relates to the development of agriculture-for-nutrition policies and programmes; and on the cost-effectiveness of agricultural interventions. Finally, there is a clear gap in research on broader target groups, particularly non-rural populations and men, the relationship between agriculture and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, and people living in fragile and post-conflict states, as well as research on methods and metrics.(Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 2013)


New evidence shows chronically poor countries are gathering pace in tackling hunger and undernutrition

According to latest research published by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), some of the poorest developing countries such as Afghanistan, Burundi and Liberia are making significant progress in their commitment to reducing hunger and undernutrition witnessed through increased action on these issues.(IDS, 25/06/2014)


Extrusion technology: A food processing technique for producing nutritious and safe foods

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has produced a report on extrusion technology. Extrusion technology is central to value addition to agricultural commodities, especially cereals and legumes: it is a powerful process that combines several operations, including mixing, cooking, kneading, shearing, shaping, and forming. This high-temperature short-time (HTST) process usually reduces microbial contamination, inactivates enzymes, and facilitates the elimination of anti-nutrient factors, resulting in products that are in a dry state with typically low water activity, which do not require refrigeration storage. Several researchers in Africa have made considerable progress in product development using extrusion technology for the development and production of traditional-based products from indigenous materials. Extrusion has great potential in tropical developing economies where infrastructure for a cold supply chain is inadequate.   Editor’s note: Cost effectiveness is a crucial issue in determining suitability of this technology. There must be a sufficient throughput  of raw material to justify the investment.   (IFT, 04/2014)   


Indigenous leafy vegetables in South Africa: Unexplored source of nutrients and antioxidants

In this review, Collise Njume and colleagues from Walter Sisulu University, South Africa, describe the nutritional value and antioxidant potential arising from the rich polyphenolic constituents of 22 indigenous leafy vegetables (ILVs, or imifino, morogo, muhuro in local dialects) species belonging to 12 genera and 10 families. Amaranthus species, Cucurbita pepo, Bidenspilosa, Chenopodiumalbum and Solanumnigrum (imifino, morogo, muhuro) appear to be the most popular and most widely occurring leafy vegetables in the rural areas of South Africa. The authors highlight the need to create awareness that would encourage consumption and industrial production of these vegetables in a bid to curb the high level of malnutrition and food insecurity in the country.    (African Journal of Biotechnology, 05/2014)