Making Agriculture Development Programmes Deliver Better on Nutrition Outcomes

Date published on source: 
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The majority of development interventions that have been implemented in Africa have been focused on improving farming practices for increased agricultural production by rural smallholder farmers. The implementation of the Green Revolution between 1950 and the late 1960s resulted in increased agricultural production, especially in the developing world. This increase was a result of the adoption of new technologies that included high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of cereals, the use of chemical fertilizers and agro-chemicals, adoption of improved farming practices, and mechanisation. From a rural household to a national perspective, emphasis was on food security, with the picture of success in all cases being cereal adequacy. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, thriving households derived comfort form the number of bags of grain in safe storage, whilst the national equivalent was the status of the aptly named ‘Strategic Grain Reserves’, being national stockpiles of grain for the purpose of meeting future needs, either domestic or international. That focus on cereal adequacy, and mainly maize for most of Africa, became synonymous with ‘food security’. That narrow focus which relegated the importance of ensuring the availability of other nutrient dense foods became  the foundation for one of the continent’s entrenched challenges – undernourishment and its attendant problems.