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Where to focus to design food security enhancement program

Today, developing countries are facing severe problem of household food and nutrition insecurity caused by multifaceted reasons ranging from low agricultural productivity, limited livelihood opportunities, inefficient food distribution system, weak market linkage, poor infrastructure and lack of awareness on healthy food and care habit. Demographic and Health Survey reports from these countries have shown that proportions of underweight children, prevalence of stunting among children and micro-nutrient deficiency in children, pregnant and nursing mothers are high and widespread. The situation is more severe in the countries affected by conflict and the countries in the transition.

Fortunately, many international development partners and the state governments are working together to fight against this problem and working through several global and national initiatives to attain objectives of Millennium Development Goal 1 by 2015. These initiatives address the growing food and nutrition insecurity emerged as a consequence of soaring food prices and impacts of global climate change among others.

In sustainably alleviating the food security and nutrition situations, it is important to address the issues associated with food availability at local level, access to adequate and safe food and its proper utilization.  The goal of sustainably enhancing food and nutrition security of the targeted communities can only be achieved by strengthening the entire agricultural value chain viz. improving the quality of seeds and animal breed, connecting farmers to local markets and encouraging crop diversity. Commercialization, diversification and quality enhancement of agriculture sector is very crucial in this context. Smart and strategic approach should be implemented to increase agricultural productivity, to decrease poverty through increased income base, to drive economic growth and to reduce under-nutrition among our children and our mothers. Moreover, the programs should be specific to particular geographical terrain, demography, climate, and other problems and opportunities of the countries and the region to be implemented. Therefore, sometimes "one size fit all" program formulated by so called expert without considering ground reality may not be suitable and sustainable in the local context of particular countries/region.

Similarly, generating awareness among vulnerable groups about appropriate food, health and care practices are equally important so that most vulnerable group of people, particularly pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 2 years of age get the appropriate nutrition they need to thrive. It is very essential to always focus the program to small and marginal farmers, poor and disadvantaged communities.

It is desirable to focus simultaneously on the short-term needs and problems to address the emergencies and longer-term solutions and strategies to get rid of the problem sustainably. Food-based nutritional approach is the most sustainable way to fight against the problem of under-nutrition we are facing today. So, in this context our policies and program should be strategic towards nutrition sensitive and sustainable agricultural development. There should be proper integration of agriculture and nutrition intervention which should also be reflected in government plan and policies.

Food security enhancement is so popular development agenda that most of the time there are multiple players on the same ground with same objectives. There is very urgent need for concerted and coordinated efforts within and across all organizations of these multiple players (government and non-government) to bring synergy and to achieve desired impacts on the ground. Development partners who are working for the same cause need a common vision with a coordinated approach.

Hence, we can fight against hunger together by making this a common cause of our time, a cause to feed our children, a cause to fight against one of the most significant development challenges; by specifically designing the program in the most effective way possible and implementing in the area and communities where it is most needed. 

This could be difficult but not impossible.

“Innovation of Food Technology as Import Substitution”: Dietary Recommendation for Normal and Autistic Children in Indonesia

by Maria P. Omega

There are differences among normal and autistic children in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt to the environment, to learn from experiences, to engage in various reasons, to overcome obstacles by taking thoughts and solutions. Therefore, the child’s intellectual performance is various depending on different occasions and criteria. For example, intelligence is attempts to organize the complex set of phenomena and systems of abilities which can be captured by standard psychometric tests (Neisser, et al., 1996). The psychometric approaches include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (a childhood verbal intelligence) and Raven’s Progressive Matrices (a non-verbal inductive reasoning about perceptual patterns). Another psychometric analysis of Halstead-Reitan Categories test (a non-verbal abstract thinking ability) and Wechsler Memory Test used by Goodwin, et al. (1983) to analyze the worse scores of the result tests, due to depressed cognitive function caused by malnutrition and reduced nutrient intake of vitamin C, vitamin B12, riboflavin or folic acid. Moreover, inadequate childhood nutrition (low protein and high carbohydrate intakes) during brain development can have a strongly negative impact on long-term outcomes, such as decreased number of brain cells, deficits in behavior, learning and memory, lower verbal IQ at school age, higher incidence of frank cognitive and neuromotor impairment, developments of obesity, insulin resistance, hypercholesterolemia, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes (Hay, et al., 1999).  Others emphasize on the primary roles of nature (inheritance of intelligence genes) and secondary roles of nurture (cultures, environments and nutrition influencing the acquisition of intellectual skills).

Therefore, the diet factor (nutritional needs) must be met by intake from the environment codified for Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in America (Figure 1), Dietary Standards for Canada, Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) in Indonesia/other countries for safe intakes recommended by WHO (Williams-Hooker, 2013) as well as five main food groups in Australia such as fruit, vegetable, dairy, meat and meat alternatives, and cereals (Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, 2007).

Figure 1. 5-8 Year Olds Nutrition

Safety of Genetically Modified Food: Public Interest and Reality

1         Summery

Genetically modified (GM) foods are any foods obtained from plants, animals or microorganisms in which original genetic makeup is deliberately changed by using recombinant DNA technology with one or more altered characteristics. GM foods are matter of significant public controversy in many countries of the world. Many public healths related and environment related issues have been raised against the GM foods. Significant trade dispute have been experienced among different countries regarding export and import of these products. Attitudes of peoples and authorities of different countries vary regarding GM foods and their effects on health and environment. This article will try to discuss the issues raised against GM foods and reality behind those issues. Public attitudes and technical scientific knowledge about GM foods will also be discussed briefly.  Safety and regulation of GM foods will also be reviewed briefly. 

Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) Nepal: An Initiative to Fight Against Hunger


Household food deficiency due to low agricultural productivity, limited livelihood opportunities, inefficient food distribution system, weak market linkage, poor infrastructure and lack of awareness among general public about healthy food habit are some of the development challenges in Nepal. Within the country western Nepal suffer more from poverty and hunger with 37% of the people living below the poverty line compared to the national average of 25.16%. Similarly, productivity of major crops is significantly lower than the national average which is already among the lowest in South Asia. Per capita consumption of animal products (32 litres of milk, 7.5 kg of meat and 6.4 eggs per capita per annum) is among the lowest in the region hunger indices pointing to an extremely alarming situation.Household food balance (result of food inflow, household production, household consumption and outflow) is negative almost throughout the year in the region. 

Government of Nepal has developed a Country Investment Plan (CIP) in 2010 in consultation with donors, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to comprehensively address the gap of funding in the area of agriculture and food security issues including availability, access and utilization of food. The Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) is well aligned with country need and government priorities. Building on a Country Investment Plan (CIP) to comprehensively address agriculture and food security issues, the Government of Nepal (GoN) submitted an investment proposal to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and was competitively awarded a grant of US$46.5 million in June 2011. GoN has designed Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) of US$58 million dollar including US$11.5 million GoN contribution to be implemented from FY 2013/14 for 5 years.  

Competition between sheep and kangaroos in Southern Australia


Millions of sheep and kangaroos share the same habitat in the sheep rangelands of southern Australia and dietary competition between these two species has been a matter of concern to pastoralists, conservation ecologists and animal scientists for long time. This issue has been tried to be addressed in this article. It is found that sheep and kangaroos both positively select grass and forb resulting considerable overlapping in their diet during flush season. But when grasses are in short supply during drought, sheep are forced to eat more of less preferred vegetation (chenopods). Sheep are more flexible than kangaroos to shift into chenopods and other shrubs decreasing the overlap in diet during dry season. Dietary competition is not significant when pasture biomass production is high (>30 g DM/m2) but it requires due attention when there is low biomass production during drought. Issue has been discussed and recommendation has been drawn.

Scaling up Climate Services for Farmers

Scaling up Climate Services in Nepal in the Context of Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

Being large number of farmers depending on subsistence agriculture on rain-fed land, Nepal is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change and frequent spells of weather extremes. Unique geographical terrain, insufficient capacity of public institutions and almost absence of early warning system with regard to climate services even intensify such vulnerability of small holder farmers. Although farmers have well adapted through ages of experiences to normal seasonal variation in weathers, they are not sufficiently prepared to cope with recent rapid and erratic climate and weather variability. Effective climate services offering reliable climate information and advisory services to farmers, so that they can prepare themselves for such changes and make informed decisions, are very crucial in this context.

The best resolution ever we can make

Jagat Bahadur Shahi (name changed) of Mugu, one of the remote districts of Nepal, hardly remembers when he has been able to feed their fill to his children last time. His six years old daughter and four years old son are so severely malnourished that anyone with kind heart cannot stop tear rolling down his/her eyes seeing them. These children had to bear the demise of their loving mother and Jagat Bahadur's caring wife last year as she was not lucky enough to get adequate food during her pregnancy.  Pouring salt on his wound, his two years old daughter leaved the world last month due to malnutrition. 

Every morning Jagat Bahadur wakes up with a dream of having enough food to feed his children. He has a desire neither for a cozy house nor for a luxury car. He doesn't have a dream to send his children in expensive private school.  He just prays to have a handful of rice for his two little cuties. 

Policy Reform and Strategies for Agricultural Development in Nepal

Since last year there has been a surge of interest and debate in public forum about the need to increase public sector investment in agriculture, and policy reform for agricultural development. Commitment of prime minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to double the government budget in agriculture sector and promises of other high level officials including vice-chairman of national planning commission and the chief secretary of the government of Nepal to give due priority to agriculture sector have received wide media coverage. In the mean time, the Government of Nepal is preparing Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS), a 20-year strategy paper for agriculture sector development which is almost in the final stage and probably will be disclosed after a few rounds of consultations and validation in a few months. 

Basic Concepts of Food Security: Definition, Dimensions and Integrated Phase Classification

"Food Security" is one of major elements of development and poverty alleviation and has been the goal of many international and national public organizations. The issue is so important that according to the state of food insecurity in the world 2012 published by FAO around 870 million people (out of which 852 million from developing countries) are estimated to have been undernourished in the period 2010-12. Although the phrase "Food Security" is being used widely, the definition and concept of food security is elusive and being evolved and expanded over time.

Impacts of climate change on Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)

Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are regarded as an icon of Antarctica due to its peculiar appearance and behaviour. These are the largest of all penguins adapted to extreme climatic condition of Antarctica [1] and are particularly susceptible to environmental changes in southern ocean as a result of global climate change due to being ice-obligate species [2]. Size of the bird also increases its susceptibility to climate change [3] and its morphology which prevent them to forage up to greater depth and range make the situation even worse [2]. Alteration in sea ice condition, which ultimately affects availability of pray and breeding and moulting of these birds, significantly affects their population [2]

Impacts of climate change on Pig

Swine are particularly susceptible to increased environmental temperature because evaporative cooling by sweating is of limited value to them due to barely functional sweat glands. Impacts of thermal stress on pig due to increased ambient temperature are described here briefly.  

For Impacts of Climate Change on Cattle, Click Here.

Effects of Heat Stress on Milk Production in Cattle

Reduction in milk production is one of the major economic impacts of climatic stress in dairy cattle. Decrease in milk yield due to heat stress is more prominent in Holstein than in Jersey cattle [1]. Decreased synthesis of hepatic glucose and lower non esterified fatty acid (NEFA) level in blood during heat stress [2, 3, 4] causes reduced glucose supply to the mammary glands resulting low lactose synthesis which in turn ensues low milk yield [5]. Reduction in milk yield is further intensified by decrease in feed consumption by the animals to compensate high environmental temperature [5, 6].

Role of Methane in Global Warming

Although the proportion of CH4 in the atmosphere is very low compared to CO2, the relative contribution of CH4 to global warming is high due to the high radiative forcing contributed by this gas. The global atmospheric concentration of methane reached 1774 ppb in 2005 compared to 1732 ppb in the early 1990s and only 715 ppb in the pre-industrial era (figure). This increase in atmospheric concentration of CH4 is responsible for radiative forcing of +0.48 ± 0.05 W m–2 which is second only to that contributed by CO2 due to CH4 having approximately 25 times higher global warming potential (GWP)  compared to CO2. Therefore, reduction in CH4 emission is more effective and probably an easier strategy than reducing CO2 emission.

Figure: Trend in the increase in atmospheric concentration of CH4 over the last 10,000 years and since 1750 (inset) with corresponding radiative forcing. Source: IPPC (2007)

P.S. References available on request.