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Mainstreaming Food and Nutrition Security

The topic of discussion is very important and needs urgent attention. It has been rightly pointed out that a little attention is given to harmonizing relevant sector policies with the food security and nutrition policy by mainstreaming food and nutrition security in local level development plans.


Horticulture is an important segment of the agriculture sector. The production of horticulture produce will have significance only when they reach the consumer in good condition and at a reasonable price. Fruits and vegetables play a significant role in our daily diet. A considerable amount of these nutritious fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries is lost due to improper post harvest operations and lack of infrastructure facilities in post harvest management; as a result there is a considerable gap between gross production and net availability.

Post harvest loss prevention is essential to make available more fruits and vegetable from the existing level of production. The success of production lies in the proper distribution of the produce and its subsequent utilization by the consumer. In this process nothing should go waste i.e. 100% utilization of the production in one form or the other should be the motto. Therefore we should adopt and promote Integrated Post Harvest Management (IPHM), which can provide adequate income enhancement to remove poverty as well as food and nutritional security. In addition this can bring out symbiotic effect between rural and urban community.


Cauliflower produces about 60% leafy parts and 40% edible curd; leaves that go as waste are found to be rich in carotene and hence are a good source of vitamin-A in addition to minerals and dietary fibre. This could be utilized as a value-added product such as food for human being and feed for cattle. The present practice of transporting cauliflower results in shipment of 60% inedible parts, which ultimately end up as city garbage.

By adopting the technique of primary/minimal processing the inedible parts can be removed before sending the cauliflower to city markets in 100% edible form. Cauliflower leaves contain a very thick midrib (stem). In a laboratory experiment the leafy portion was separated from the stem, blanched in boiling water before drying.

Finally dried leaves were converted into cauliflower leaf powder. This is a potential source of fortification that could solve the acute problem of vitamin-A deficiency. Wheat flour fortified with cauliflower leaf powder can be supplied through public distribution system for combating blindness in the country. Similarly left out stems could be dried and used as animal feed in time of shortage or crisis.

Under the FAO-Netherlands Partnership Programme (FNPP) at FAO Headquarters, support has been provided to a number of countries to mainstream food and nutrition security in overarching policy platforms, such as poverty reduction strategies, as well as in national sector policies. Food security is typically viewed as a major concern of the agricultural sector, with a focus on improving productivity in food production, and increasing the efficiency of food marketing. Nutrition is seen as a concern of the health sector. Much less often adequate attention is given to a twin-track approach to food security, which also emphasises food access and social protection measures (food and non-food safety nets) as important components of food security strategies. Poverty-food and nutrition security linkages are often overlooked in national policy statements. Even when a food security and nutrition policy is in place, little attention is given to harmonising relevant sector policies with the food security and nutrition policy, or to policy implementation by mainstreaming food and nutrition security in local level development plans.

We are currently attempting to synthesise lessons learned from the country experiences supported by FNPP (Bhutan, Cambodia, Kenya, Mozambique and Zanzibar- United Republic of Tanzania), which is coming to an end. The idea is to externalise the experiences, hopefully for the benefit of other stakeholders and other countries. Since the number of countries involved is small, we would like to add other similar documented experiences so that certain lessons are more generalisable. Therefore, we would be most grateful for any indication of similar country level experiences. Specifically of interest are the following.

  • Case studies of initiatives towards mainstreaming food and nutrition security in poverty reduction strategies, development plans or national policies in India or elsewhere
  • Opportunities, challenges and lessons learned in implementing such initiatives with positive outcomes
  • What kind of policy assistance is available or required to overcome constraints to mainstreaming food and nutrition security at local levels (like in district or municipal plans)
  • The information and insights that may be provided by participants in this online community will be used to enrich the lessons learned reports. Syntheses of the lessons learned reports can be shared in this online community when they become available. The reports themselves will be made available by FAO for wide distribution.