Building shared ownership: Improving nutrition through agriculture

Gender inequalities, intersectoral engagement and improved dialogue between decision-making departments came out strongly

Candid and thought-provoking participation from agriculture and nutrition stakeholders marked the LANSA-MSSRF all-India stakeholder consultation organised at the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), New Delhi on April 9. The event is a follow-up to the 23 interviews with stakeholders from different sectors that recorded perceptions of linkages and disconnects between agriculture and nutrition in India. The meeting was well attended with high-level participation from Government ministries, research institutes, UN agencies, industry and the media.

The day-long event was good opportunity for feedback and knowledge sharing among stakeholders. LANSA researchers presented updated evidence reviews and summary reports of interviews with key stakeholders at the meeting. An open discussion with feedback on research gaps followed, and steps for further action were drawn up.

Dr S Nagarajan, Agricultural Advisor, and RV Bhavani, Programme Manager, gave an overview of research studies undertaken in India so far. Evidence reviews and findings from the stakeholder interviews were presented by Stuart Gillespie, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI / Research Director for LANSA, and this was followed by a lively discussion.

Stakeholders raised many valid points on dietary diversity and food habits in the country. The importance of gender, involvement of the private sector, and the need to improve dialogue between decision-making departments came out strongly throughout the meeting. Participants representing Government ministries were open to criticism, but also said that there is “enabling framework” and LANSA’s research will go a long way in “bridging the gaps”, adding that “communicating research” is important for success.

Leading the discussion of research priorities for LANSA, Stuart talked of the pathways from agriculture to nutrition, methodology and conclusions derived.  He said that the findings indicated there is a “weak, inconclusive evidence base,” and that there was “lack of unit-level data linking agriculture and nutrition variables”. He added that inter-disciplinary disconnect was evident, and that the agriculture-nutrition disconnect in India may relate to increasing inequality, predominant influence of non-food factors, and / or micronutrients consumption not increasing among poorest, and possibly intergenerational inertia.

Introducing future research priorities, Stuart announced that the Responsive Window aims to engage stakeholders, and engender a sense of genuine shared ownership of LANSA’s programme in India. Drawing from stakeholder inputs, the call for proposals announced is around topics ranging from gender empowerment and inequalities in the agriculture sector, scale and sustainability, to intersectoral collaboration, and improving communication and collaboration with policy-makers.

The afternoon session was the Open Forum with presentations by Dr Kalpagam Polasa, Director National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, and Dr Neelam Grewal, Director – Directorate of Women in Agriculture (DRWA), Orissa. An open discussion was encouraged around four keys questions which included gender and age, as well as UN’s target of achieving ‘Zero Hunger’. Stakeholders spoke of their successes and challenges in their current work areas, shared examples of good practice and identified areas of co-operation and learning.

This meeting was the first major national event for LANSA-MSSRF, and inviting stakeholders to validate and/or critique findings has been a good learning experience. As a way forward Dr Ajay Parida, Executive Director at MSSRF underlined the importance of keeping stakeholders abreast of LANSA’s research plans and seeking their feedback to identify and bridge research gaps.

Sangeetha Rajeesh
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

South Asia Focus

Funded by UK DFID

This research has been funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies



Follow Us