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Unhealthy diets represent a major risk for the pathogenesis of metabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases. Improving the quality of diet is important to prevent chronic diseases, and diet-induced modifications of the gut microbiota (GM) community likely play an important role. The EU-funded Stance4Health project aims at performing a randomized clinical trial based on a nutritional intervention program in the context of normal weight and overweight adults as well as children with obesity and gluten-related disorders or allergy/intolerance to cow’s milk. The trial will evaluate the efficacy of a Smart Personalised Nutrition (SPN) service in modifying GM composition and metabolic function and improving consumer empowerment through technology adoption.

To read the paper: Paper

Keywords: gut microbiota; personalized nutrition; Stance4Health; i-Diet Stance4Health; overweight;
obesity; coeliac disease; food allergies; adults; children

 

 

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The March edition of the JRC's Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment is now available at: Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment

Main findings of the March global overview:

  • In Southern Africa, a rainfall deficit that started in February in central and eastern parts of the region, continued to affect the eastern part of the region at the beginning of March. Rainfall improved in mid-March, however tropical storms Ana and Gombe and October-December drought impacts are lowering national cereal productions. On the contrary, an above-average output is forecast in South Africa, in Eswatini and Lesotho.
  • In East Africa, there is increasing concern that the region will experience the fourth consecutive poor rainfall season during March-May 2022 rains. Cumulated Copernicus C3S multi-model rainfall forecasts for April-June show a high probability of a drier than average period for the Horn and wetter than average conditions for South Sudan, Western Kenya, Ethiopian Highlands and Uganda. The pressure on food security caused by the exceptionally prolonged drought appears even more threatening with the increase in food prices and the challenges of small-scale farmers to access fertiliser. A high number of people in the region (45-55 million) need humanitarian food and nutrition assistance to prevent Crisis or worse outcomes between January and May 2022 (FEWSNET).
  • In North Africa, the winter cereal season is suffering from drought stress and rainfall in March came in most cases too late for crop recovery. In Morocco and in western Algeria reduced yields can be expected (see more on yield forecasts in the latest MARS bulletin). A low winter wheat production in one or more countries in North Africa is of particular concern with the expected food price inflation linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, in the Middle East, prospects for winter cereals are poor in the north of Syria and north and east of Iraq due to poor rainfall and poor socio-economic conditions since autumn 2021. In contrast, biomass of winter crops is still close to average in Iran and in Yemen land preparation is ongoing under favourable conditions.
  • In West Africa, land preparation and sowing activities for the first maize season are starting in the southern bimodal parts of the region along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea with the onset of seasonal rains in March. Rainfall conditions were average over the past month; however slightly below-average vegetation conditions are observed in southern Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and parts of Cote d’Ivoire. The food security situation is very deteriorated in the region with about 38.3 million people forecast to be in crisis (CH Phase 3) and above by June-August 2022 if no action is taken according to the latest CH analyses in March 2022 (PREGEC communique-March 2022).
  • In Central Asia, biomass of winter crops is close to or above-average, however with below-average rainfall forecast for the next 3 months, irrigation will be critical for crop production. In Afghanistan, biomass of winter cereals is close to average in most regions, however a very large part of the population (up to 95%) suffers from food insecurity. In South Asia, prospects are favourable for Rabi crops (winter cereals) and Boro rice in Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. In Sri Lanka, harvest of main season (Maha) rice and maize has been finalised with close to average prospects; however, fertiliser and fuel shortages are likely to decrease production.
  • In South-East Asia, dry season rice is growing under favourable conditions and prospects are positive. In Indonesia, wet season rice planted from November to March is in good condition thanks to favourable rainfall.
  • In Central America, harvest of third season maize-beans (Apante-Postrera tardia) concluded with average production for the region (). The overall 2021 cereal production is close to the 5-year average, with Honduras and Nicaragua slightly below. Total cereal output is estimated below the 5-year average for Haiti. Land preparation has started for the main season in Guatemala and Honduras, whereas rice is in the growing stage in Nicaragua (irrigated-main) and in Honduras (second season). In the Caribbean, sowing of main season maize and rice has started under favourable conditions, except in parts of Cuba.

To visit the ASAP tool developed by the JRC visit ASAP - ANOMALY HOTSPOTS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

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10585242481?profile=RESIZE_710xTo better understand our current position and capability within this exciting new space, a cross-sector workshop was held in February to identify opportunities and challenges to establishing a competitive UK industry over the short, medium and long term. The workshop was taken forward by UKRI’s Transforming Food Production (TFP) programme and the Growing Kent & Medway Strength in Places Strategic Priorities Fund.                                                                                            
A series of roadmaps have been developed as an output from the workshop which identify key priorities for the sector towards 2030. The TFP programme is already supporting a number of projects developing novel technologies and innovations to establish new industries across this sector, from insect and algal proteins, to advanced fermentations for single-cell proteins, and lab-cultured meat.

This report provides an initial blueprint for how the sector can come together and work collaboratively for mutual benefit, helping to unlock the global market opportunities that are emerging across the alternative protein sector.

Read report.

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Launching Healthy Eating Week today, findings from a new survey, conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation, reveals widespread confusion among people of all ages, including adults* and children**, about which foods do and do not count towards your 5 A DAY or provide certain nutrients, including fibre and protein.

The survey suggests that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of primary schoolchildren (aged 7-11 years) and 17 percent of older children (11-16 years) think that chicken counts towards your 5-A-DAY, while nearly a fifth (19 percent) of primary school children think that cheese can be one of your 5 A DAY.

Only 38 percent of all British adults and 23 percent of older children know that carrots contain fibre, while only 60 percent of secondary schoolchildren and 36 percent of primary schoolchildren believe that wholemeal bread is a source of fibre. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all schoolchildren think that chicken is a source of fibre, although it provides no fibre at all.

79 percent of adults, 91 percent of secondary schoolchildren and 70 percent of primary schoolchildren correctly say that chicken provides protein but only half of all adults, 46 percent of older children and 29 percent of younger children think that chickpeas are a source of protein. This is despite the fact that canned chickpeas are a rich source of protein, with an average adult portion providing around a fifth of the average adult’s recommended intake per day (45g for females and 56g for males).

The survey also shows that many people do not currently eat, or have never tried, a range of plant foods, such as beans, peas and lentils, which provide essential nutrients like protein and fibre. One third of adults and more than half (55 percent) of schoolchildren reported that they have never tried lentils, one third of adults and 46 percent of schoolchildren have never tried chickpeas and over a quarter (28 percent) of adults and 48 percent of children have never tried kidney beans.

To read the article, please visit: Chicken and cheese in your 5 A DAY - British Nutrition Foundation survey reveals widespread confusion about healthy eating

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Government food strategy published

10565987264?profile=RESIZE_710xThe UK government has today published its food strategy.

This food strategy sets out government ambitions and priorities to deliver the following objectives:

  1. a prosperous agri-food and seafood sector that ensures a secure food supply in an unpredictable world and contributes to the levelling up agenda through good quality jobs around the country.
  2. a sustainable, nature positive, affordable food system that provides choice and access to high quality products that support healthier and home-grown diets for all.
  3. trade that provides export opportunities and consumer choice through imports, without compromising our regulatory standards for food, whether produced domestically or imported.

To achieve these objectives government will seek to:

  • broadly maintain the current level of food we produce domestically, including sustainably boosting production in sectors where there are post-Brexit opportunities including horticulture and seafood.
  • ensure that by 2030, pay, employment and productivity, as well as completion of high-quality skills training will have risen in the agri-food industry in every area of the UK, to support our production and levelling up objectives.
  • halve childhood obesity by 2030, reducing the healthy life expectancy (HLE) gap between local areas where it is highest and lowest by 2030, adding 5 years to HLE by 2035 and reducing the proportion of the population living with diet-related illnesses; and to support this, increasing the proportion of healthier food sold.
  • reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the environmental impacts of the food system, in line with our net zero commitments and biodiversity targets and preparing for the risks from a changing climate.
  • contribute to our export strategy goal to reach £1 trillion of exports annually by 2030 and supporting more UK food and drink businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to take advantage of new market access and free trade agreements (FTAs) post-Brexit
  • maintain high standards for food consumed in the UK, wherever it is produced.

 

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10565858455?profile=RESIZE_584xThe FSA has shared its first science newsletter.

These quarterly newsletters will update you on FSA funding opportunities, latest research publications, areas of research interest, and will highlight FSA science job vacancies and peer reviewer opportunities.  

In this first issue, FSA highlight the recent launch of the new FSA 5-year strategy and the new Food Safety Research Network, and the publication of household food insecurity reports

Highlights

FSA 5-year Strategy Launch
We recently published our strategy for improving food over the next five years and recommitted to our mission of food you can trust.

The five-year strategy reflects the FSA’s greater responsibilities now that the UK is outside of the EU and takes into account growing public concern about health and climate change. Read our full FSA strategy 2022 to 2027: Food you can trust.

FSA research shows growing concern around the cost of food

Research published by the Food Standards Agency today shows the cost of food is a future major worry for three out of four of people in the UK.

FSA announces appointment of two fellowships to the PATH-SAFE programme
We're delighted to announce the appointment of two fellowships to the Pathogen Surveillance in Agriculture, Food and the Environment programme (PATH-SAFE) team. Data Fellow Professor David Aanensen and Science Fellow Dr Ed Haynes will play a key role in driving forward our scientific innovation. You can read our blog post Making food safer with two PATH-SAFE fellowships.

Food Standards Agency takes next step to regulate CBD market
FSA takes next step to regulate CBD market
We have confirmed the list of CBD products that are now one step closer towards being authorised. The CBD Public List shows which products have a credible application for authorisation with the FSA.

Food Safety Network

We’re pleased to launch a new Food Safety Research Network, co-funding with UKRI-BBSRC. Hosted by The Quadram Institute, the network will help tackle the UK’s annual 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness by bringing together experts from government, industry and academic to address issues of food safety. 

FSA Scientific Advisory Committees welcome twelve new members

The Chair of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Professor Susan Jebb has announced the appointment of 12 new independent experts as members of the FSA’s Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs)

Speak Up For Allergies Campaign
We have launched the next phase of the Speak Up For Allergies campaign. The campaign encourages young people to support friends with allergies when eating in restaurants and the important role of front of house staff to provide allergen information effectively.

Improving School Food Standards
Following the publication of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, our Chair, Susan Jebb, welcomes plans for a pilot aimed at improving school food standards. 

Recent Publications

We collaborate with a range of stakeholders on research projects to ensure our work is underpinned by the latest science and evidence. Our publications are available on our Research and Evidence pages.  

If you would like to receive this newsletter directly or in an alternative format, or if you would like to chat about any of the information provided within this newsletter, FSA would be happy to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing Science.Communications@food.gov.uk.

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Young men with a poor diet saw a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet, a new study shows.

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects approximately 1 million Australians each year. It is a significant risk factor for suicide, the leading cause of death in young adults. The 12-week randomised control trial, conducted by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, was recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Lead researcher Jessica Bayes, a PhD candidate in the UTS Faculty of Health, said the study was the first randomised clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men (aged 18-25).

"We were surprised by how willing the young men were to take on a new diet," Bayes said. "Those assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly change their original diets, under the guidance of a nutritionist, over a short time frame."

"It suggests that medical doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression," she said.

To read the post, visit: A better diet helps beat depression in young men

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Public health experts and campaigners have accused the UK government of turning its back on child health after ministers announced that a ban on multibuy deals for junk food would be delayed by a year in response to the cost of living crisis.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that the planned ban on “buy one get one free” deals for food and drinks that are high in fat, salt, or sugar and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks would be delayed until October 2023 while officials assess the effect on household finances. A planned ban on television advertising of these products before 9 pm will also be paused for a year.

Experts and campaigners lamented the inaction, accusing the government of failing to honour its pledges to tackle childhood obesity, with some calling for a reversal of the decision.

To read the article, Government delay on junk food multibuy ban is “shocking,” say health experts

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With the need to develop healthier and more sustainable food products, the introduction of new foods could be key to the transformation of our food system. Although European diets vary from region to region and household to household, innovation is accelerating and new food ingredients are entering the European market. Whether they are entirely new food concepts, or foods influenced by cultures and diets from across the world, could novel foods help to create a future-fit food system in Europe?

What are novel foods?
Novel foods are classified as foods that were not widely consumed within the EU before 15 May 1997; they can be innovative, newly developed, or produced using new technologies and processes (1). In some circumstances, novel foods can be introduced to a region or market to ‘replace’ another food because they are considered healthier or more sustainable. Examples include new sources of vitamins, extracts from plants or existing foods, or agricultural products from other countries (1).

Europe saw an explosion of new food products entering the EU market during the 1990s, and this led to the introduction of the first novel food legislation in May 1997 which stated that novel foods must (1):

  • be safe for consumers, and not pose a risk to public health
  • be properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers
  • not differ in a way that the consumption of the novel food would be nutritionally disadvantageous, if intended to replace another food.

To read the post, please visit: Ingredients of the future: 4 novel foods emerging in Europe

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This review argues that the healthfulness of foods is not solely based on its nutritional composition but also on food form and food structure. The food form is very closely linked to how much calories are consumed and how full you feel. For example, consuming whole oranges is more satiating than consuming orange juice. The food texture or food structure within a food category determine how fast you eat a food, therefore influencing your sense of satiety. That’s why consuming hard bread instead of soft bread will make you feel full quicker. Other relevant properties are for example the thickness of yoghurts or chewiness of snacks. The food matrix (i.e., the microstructure of a food) is highly important in the ultimate absorption of nutrients. For example, in nuts, legumes and cereals, the actual calories absorbed during digestion are much fewer than the calories calculated from their composition.

The RESTRUCTURE project will provide new information on how eating rate can be predicted from food texture and investigate how composite foods or meals should be designed to effectively reduce calorie intake.

To read more, click here: INTERRELATIONS BETWEEN FOOD FORM, TEXTURE, AND MATRIX INFLUENCE ENERGY INTAKE AND METABOLIC RESPONSES

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Is another food crisis unfolding?

The summer of 2007 is notoriously remembered for the turmoil in the subprime mortgage market in the United States that led to the collapse the following year of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest houses in Wall Street, and ushered in the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. The financial crisis engulfed about a dozen advanced economies (AEs) and pulled down dozens of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDEs) as the global economy slipped into recession. While the press coverage focused on the unfolding financial meltdown of the wealthy economies, a very different type of crisis brewed in parallel, that would have a disproportionally greater impact on EMDEs than in AEs. This was the global food crisis of 2008, the less famous sibling of the financial crisis.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic and the resulting plethora of supply disruptions in early 2020, “global real or relative food prices” (i.e., food prices divided by the consumer price index, or CPI) have been climbing higher once again (Figure 1). This builds on a perilous base. Already in 2020, more than 800 million people were estimated to be suffering from hunger, one hundred million more than the previous year (UNICEF, 2021). The pandemic, a once in a century event, has now been followed by another rare calamity—the first war in Europe since 1945.

To read the post: Is another food crisis unfolding?

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The four betters and leaving no one behind

FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. The four betters represent an organising principle for how FAO intends to contribute directly to SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) as well as to supporting achievement of the broader SDG agenda, which is crucial for attaining FAO’s overall vision.

The four betters reflect the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of agri-food systems. They also encourage a strategic and systems-oriented approach within all FAO’s interventions.

FAO will also apply four cross-cutting/cross-sectional “accelerators”: (i) technology, (ii) innovation, (iii) data, and (iv) complements (governance, human capital, and institutions) in all its programmatic interventions to accelerate impact while minimizing trade-offs.

To read the article: FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31

 

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The future of nutrition advice

Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as "What and when should we eat?" and "How can we improve the use of food as medicine?" The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.
How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

To read the article, The future of nutrition advice

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EFSA’s scientists have completed their comprehensive safety assessment of sugars in the diet and their potential links to health problems. The opinion’s rich findings will support national public health authorities in Europe update future advice for their consumers.

Prof. Dominique Turck is the Chair of EFSA’s panel of nutrition experts who carried out the assessment. He stated: “We concluded that intakes of added and free sugars should be as low as possible as part of a nutritionally adequate diet; this is in line with current recommendations. However, the scientific evidence did not allow us to set a tolerable upper intake level for dietary sugars, which was the original goal of this assessment.”

Our diet includes different categories and sources of sugars, which can be naturally occurring or added. ‘Added sugars’ are refined sugars used in food preparation and as table sugar. ‘Free sugars’ includes ‘added sugars’ plus those naturally present in honey and syrups, as well as in fruit and vegetable juices and juice concentrates. ‘Total sugars’ are all sugars present in the diet, including those naturally present in fruit, vegetables, and milk.

Feedback helped finalise the opinion

Valuable input received during last year’s public consultation on a draft version of the opinion allowed our scientists to refine and clarify important aspects of their work.

Prof. Turck said: “We underlined there are uncertainties about chronic disease risk for people whose consumption of added and free sugars is below 10% of their total energy intake. This is due to the scarcity of studies at doses in this range.

“Data limitations also meant it was not possible to compare the effects of sugars classified as added or free, overall.”

To read the blog, visit EFSA's website: Added and free sugars should be as low as possible

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10219264079?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Standards Agency launches its new five-year strategy, 2022 - 2027.

The FSA’s job, set out in law, is to safeguard public health and protect the interests of consumers in relation to food. FSA works closely with the UK Government and the governments in Wales and Northern Ireland, but it acts independently and transparently, led by science and evidence.

FSA's fundamental mission is food you can trust. This mission has remained constant since the previous strategy, published in 2015. However, the food system is evolving and the strategy to deliver this mission needs to reflect and anticipate change.

The FSA has greater responsibilities now that the UK is outside of the EU. New technologies and business models and changing consumer behaviours, means the FSA needs to think differently about how it can deliver its mission. FSA also needs to take account of growing public concern about health, sustainability and of affordability.

By food you can trust, FSA means a food system in which:

Read the full version of FSA's new five year strategy here.

 

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SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels after receiving the AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine decrease with age and are higher in females and people with prior infection, show data from the Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission (React-2) study.

The study, led by Imperial College London, analysed self-reported results from Fortress lateral flow tests to detect antibodies in a drop of blood from a finger prick. Data were collected from 212 102 adults from January to May 2021, of whom 71 923 (33.9%) had received at least one dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and 139 067 (65.6%) at least one dose of AstraZeneca.

Read more here.

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A generation of children and young people are at risk of being left behind because of a combination of soaring waiting times for health services and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on their mental health, a new analysis has warned.

Key findings include:

  • Between April and September 2021, there was an 81% increase in referrals for children and young people’s mental health services compared with the same period in 2019. The increase for adults (19 years and over) in the same period was 11%

  • During the same period, there were over 15 000 urgent or emergency crisis care referrals for children and young people, a 59% increase compared with the same period in 2019

  • One in five children and young people waited more than 12 weeks for a follow-up appointment with mental health services between April 2020 and March 2021

  • The number of children and young people waiting to start treatment for a suspected eating disorder quadrupled from pre-pandemic levels to 2083 by September 2021

  • During the pandemic, the number of children and young people attending emergency departments primarily for an eating disorder doubled from 107 in October 2019 to 214 in October 2021.

Read more here.

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Food is often scarce in countries afflicted by fragility, conflict and violence. But solutions require more than putting food on the table today. To truly help those caught in often terrifying situations, it’s important to look at how they will be able to eat and provide food for their familiie tomorrow and beyond – and that requires focusing on agriculture. Holger Kray, World Bank Program Manager for Agriculture and Food in Eastern and Southern Africa, explains the role of agriculture in these difficult settings.

Q. From your experience, what is the relationship between conflict and hunger?
A. There's a commonality between all the fragile and conflict affected states. Their per capita income is usually persistently low, so people cannot afford to buy high quality foods and a diversified diet. And those who produce food cannot afford to buy the most critical inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers and good animal feed. Because of that, extreme poverty is increasing. This is almost like a vicious cycle.

There are also disruptions to food systems. For instance, products are being produced but they don't reach the consumer due to shortages in energy or logistics.

In addition, in fragile and conflict-affected countries, the public sector may not be as efficient in rolling out policies and making decisions about the stewardship of natural resources.


Q. What are the impacts of climate change in these situations?
A. Climate change is the greatest threat to food security that we've seen. And it's probably one of the greatest challenges that the World Bank is facing in its assistance to countries.  

Twenty years ago, a food security crisis resulting from severe weather in Africa would occur about once every 12 years. It now occurs every two and a half years. It’s much too frequent for any country, region or farm to recover from the impact of these shocks.

In countries such as Malawi or Madagascar, you now see it every two to three years. These are countries that only have one rainy season per year. They can only produce maize once a year. If that rain season fails to come, there's no food production. If a rainstorm comes right when the corn starts to grow, it washes away the crops, then the crops are gone for the year.


Q. How has COVID-19 impacted these situations?
A. Because of COVID-19 lockdown measures, per capita income GDP declined even further. Poverty rates in fragile countries have increased, and food insecurity worsened. Food price inflation these days is much higher in fragile and conflict affected countries. Food price inflation this year in Africa is about 12% on average, year over year. It's 30-40% in conflict affected countries.


Q. But it's not only about COVID. No, or even getting emergency aid to people.  Agriculture itself is key. So how does it work in such dangerous situations?
A. Agriculture provides food, jobs and income. Agriculture also creates inclusion. It is usually the sector in which women not only find dignity, but really have a voice in which they take important decisions. It is often underestimated how important the agriculture and food sector is for inclusion of the marginalized populations.

Agriculture is also about landscape and resilience. If you have nude landscapes without any vegetation or that are no longer cultivated, these landscapes are quite often much more prone to catastrophic weather events. The presence of trees, grass and pasture hold the soil much better, add to water retention capacity and bind carbon in the soil.

Summing up, agriculture plays a very central role. It’s not the solution to every challenge that countries face in fragile and conflict-affected situations, but it is much more than just a sector that only produces food.


Q. So how does the World Bank work to promote agriculture in these situations?
A. The World Bank's main mission is to focus on long-term development, helping countries to build systems, infrastructure, and capacity to avoid fragile and conflict situations or to recover after such catastrophic impacts. We are not a rapid response agency, but we do have rapid response activities, such as food aid or feed aid.

Livelihood kits is one example. After crops have been washed away, we quickly help supply farmers with seed and fertilizer to produce food for the next season. This is what we typically do when we work with governments after natural disasters.

Something relatively new in our “response portfolio” is the Early Response Financing which we can deploy at the early onset of a potential food crisis, to avoid catastrophic impacts on the population later on.

South Sudan is a concrete example. It’s continues to be affected by hunger, extreme climate shocks such as flooding, and conflict. We've recently deployed two projects that are being implemented in parallel. One is an emergency locust response project where we areworking with communities through the government to improve local surveillance and locust control, help restore livelihoods, and help the country to build systems so that in the future it is better prepared for locust outbreaks. All these actions arepart of an emergency response. 

In parallel, we have deployed a resilient agricultural livelihoods project. This project helps South Sudan to develop better agriculture productivity in parts of the country are fertile  and not affected by conflict so that that the nation can build a strong foundation to feed itself in future.


Q. Have you seen agriculture projects that have made a difference and supported a return to normalcy in fragile and conflict settings?
A. Agriculture is a part of a response strategy. It might be one of the most important one, but it is not the only ones. It's always a combination of a range of efforts which include agriculture and food, but also focus on job creation, livelihood restoration, trade, economic growth, macroeconomic stability -- all the things that need to be present for development to take place.

An example is northern Uganda at the border of South Sudan. Two decades ago, violence in the region dominated international news. If you go to northern Uganda now, what you’d see unfolding is an agricultural revolution. There is a really vibrant private sector that works with farmers and provides technical assistance, telling farmers how to better use inputs, how to better grow, collect and market crops.To a certain degree, northern Uganda has become a critical supplier for food security efforts managed by the World Food Program in neighboring South Sudan.


Q. With all of this, what role does the private sector play?
A. Agriculture is inherently a private sector activity because all the farmers, whether male or female, small or large, are entrepreneurs. The state's only role in guiding agriculture is to devise a policy framework that delivers incentives and a regulatory environment for farmers as private actors to develop and produce and prosper.

Private corporations, traders and downstream businesses have a critical role to play. They are the ones who supply seeds, fertilizers, insurance, banking, machinery, maintenance services among other things. In fragile and conflict settings, the private sector often functions in the gray economy, the undocumented economy, but it's very active.

The private sector also has a role in mobilizing financing for development by investing in these countries. International and bilateral organizations, as well as foundations, cannot meet the agriculture development needs of entire continents on their own.

This is why the World Bank Group does not only focus on the public sector side. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) specializes in private sector development, helping enterprises to grow and make a greater contribution to development.

Meanwhile, our Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) helps cross-border investors and lenders to deal with non-commercial and political risks, breach of contract, and currency inconvertibility. If you were an international investor thinking about investing in a fragile country, MIGA could insure part of your risk. This type of insurance is an important ingredient to attract international private sector funds.

 

The article was sourced from this website Knowledge Centre for Global Food and Nutrition Security

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The Evolution of Diet

As we look to 2050, when we’ll need to feed two billion more people, the question of which diet is best has taken on new urgency. The foods we choose to eat in the coming decades will have dramatic ramifications for the planet. Simply put, a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating that’s on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the world’s resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing. As farming emerged, nomadic hunter-gatherers gradually were pushed off prime farmland, and eventually they became limited to the forests of the Amazon, the arid grasslands of Africa, the remote islands of Southeast Asia, and the tundra of the Arctic. Today only a few scattered tribes of hunter-gatherers remain on the planet.

That’s why scientists are intensifying efforts to learn what they can about an ancient diet and way of life before they disappear. “Hunter-gatherers are not living fossils,” says Alyssa Crittenden, a nutritional anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies the diet of Tanzania’s Hadza people, some of the last true hunter-gatherers. “That being said, we have a small handful of foraging populations that remain on the planet. We are running out of time. If we want to glean any information on what a nomadic, foraging lifestyle looks like, we need to capture their diet now.”

To go to National Geographic's page: The Evolution of Diet

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The cultivation of pulses, combined with the power of young people, can help achieve a transformation in our agrifood systems, said QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), at a virtual event held to mark World Pulses Day.

“Our agrifood systems need a paradigm shift,” said Qu, stating that “a focus on pulses can help us achieve this transformation, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

World Pulses Day seeks to raise awareness of the role of pulses in addressing food security challenges and their contribution to achieving a healthy and balanced diet. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Pulses to empower youth in achieving sustainable agrifood systems”. Currently, there are 1.8 billion young people in the world between the ages of 10 and 24 who have the creativity and energy for renewing perspectives and opportunities and, as Qu affirmed, it’s a potential we must tap into.

“Pulses contribute to creating livelihood opportunities and equity, which are essential for sustainable agrifood systems. FAO strongly supports the youth to become drivers of positive change,” Qu said.

To read the article: World Pulses Day leverages the power of youth to transform agrifood systems

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