Agri-nutrition conference in Kenya recommends diversified diets for improved nutrition
The government hosts Agri-nutrition conference with an aim of contributing to global efforts to address malnutrition through agriculture by providing a platform for experience sharing and learning on practical actions, programme and policy interventions that have contributed to addressing malnutrition in Kenya.
The conference looked at agriculture a as a key driver to consumption of safe diverse nutritious foods, demonstrate the Multisectoral approach to addressing malnutrition – Agriculture, Education, WASH, Social Protection, Health, Trade and Industrialisation.
The three-day conference also tried to identify the role of the private sector in increasing access to safe and nutritious foods andappropriate technologies and techniques in food systems for better nutrition, importance of food safety in food and nutrition, knowledge management for Agri-Nutrition: Filling the data gap and effective communication for Agri-nutrition.
Malnutrition contributes to over 50 percent of child mortality globally. In Kenya, about 26 % of children below five years of age are stunted, and only 22% of children 6-23 months are adequately fed.
The negative consequences of malnutrition include poor physical and cognitive development of children leading to failure to achieve their full potential in life.
Good nutrition is important in the course of the lifespan but critically so in the first 1000 days of life. Agriculture has potential to contribute significantly to the incomes and food choices of populations thus investments in agriculture help alleviate poverty, improve food security, and improve nutrition.
Agricultural interventions have opportunities to address malnutrition through the production, income and women’s empowerment pathways.
Over 80% of the Kenyan population lives in the rural areas and work in agriculture. Evidence indicates that investment in agricultural technologies has improved yields, increased caloric consumption, and or increased incomes.
Therefore, promoting sustainable agricultural production, alongside nutrition social behaviour change communication has potential to increase consumption of diversified diets hence improve nutrition.
Addressing malnutrition requires a multi-faceted approach to tackle both the immediate and underlying causes. Effective coordination alongside collaborative learning and adaptation in a multi-sectoral and multi-partner approach at national, regional and local levels are necessary to accelerate and sustain nutrition outcomes.
By Malachi Motano
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