Nepal Nutrition

Creating Enabling Environments for Nutrition-Sensitive Food and Agriculture to Address Malnutrition

A contributing factor to malnutrition in the Asia and the Pacific region is a lack of crop diversity, which leads to a lack of diversity in diets as well. A major reason for this is that many countries in the region only focus on cultivating a small number of staple foods. Diversifying local crops is a cost-effective and sustainable way to strengthen local agriculture and food systems and combat malnutrition. The first step in supporting local agriculture and food systems by promoting crop and dietary diversification as a means of reducing malnutrition is creating an enabling environment to do so. This TCP project aimed to facilitate the development of this environment through the forming of links, the closing of gaps, and the development of policy recommendations in four countries in the Asia and the Pacific Region: Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Nepal. Its design included national policy reviews, evidence-based studies, and field studies to assess the existing issues related to crop diversity, dietary diversity and malnutrition, and their interdependence, as well as the preparation of national reports and policy documents to be synthesized and disseminated in the region. Drawing on FAO’s previous experience in the region, this project was based on a multisectoral, holistic food system approach that takes into account every step of the food value chain. It involved international development and research institutes, local and national ministries, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and all actors along the food value chain. A major focus of the project was the identification of Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) that could be cultivated in the targeted countries and integrated into national policies on food and agriculture. In addition to supporting bio- and production diversity, NUS also address malnutrition, owing to the fact that they can provide essential vitamins, micronutrients and protein. Many are also climate resilient, sustainable, locally available, adaptable to marginal conditions and have commercial potential. These NUS are classified as Future Smart Foods (FSFs), and the project promoted their cultivation, as well as their integration and mainstreaming into national policies and plans.