How countries around the world are leveraging agriculture to improve nutrition

By Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch

This blog post is the third in a 3-part series accompanying the release of the book Agriculture for Improved Nutrition: Seizing the Momentum, co-edited by Shenggen Fan, Sivan Yosef, and Rajul Pandya-Lorch (co-published by CABI Publishing and IFPRI). The book was launched at a Feb. 28 event at IFPRI headquarters in Washington.

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Bean varieties at the CIAT gene bank in Colombia. The gene bank sends its seeds for conservation at the Global Seed Vault in Norway. Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 Neil Palmer / CIAT

At times, engaging the agriculture sector to improve nutrition seems like an uphill battle. In many countries, agricultural policies tend to favor staple foods like wheat and rice, because these crops have traditionally staved off hunger and famine. Government officials overseeing agriculture and nutrition often work in isolation, with their funding, capacities, and even technical languages obstacles to close collaboration. Against this backdrop, it can be daunting for policymakers to contemplate formulating nutrition-driven agriculture policies and strategies that can be implemented at the national scale.

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The demise of banana has been greatly exaggerated, but…

By David R Jones

The demise of the banana has been in the news regularly since a 2003 article in The New Scientist suggested that the crop may be extinct within 10 years. However, recent data indicate that between 2000 and 2017, global production of bananas grew at a compound annual rate of 3.2%, reaching a record of 114 million tonnes in 2017, up from around 67 million tonnes in 2000. Not bad for a crop that was supposedly on its death bed!

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Cavendish cultivar with no functional leaves in a plantation in Costa Rica after being left unprotected from Pseudocerscospora fijienis (photo: M. Sanchez and M Guzman, CORBANA)

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A planetary health diet: kind to your body, animals and the planet

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We need to eat much less meat

By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London

It has long been clear that certain foods and dietary choices are not good for human health, but there is now increasing evidence that they can also be bad for the health of the planet. The recently published Food in the Anthropocene: EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems highlights that it may not be possible to feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries unless we make significant changes to our diets and to the way food systems are managed. In particular, we need to eat much less meat, particularly red meat from grain-fed livestock.

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The twelve pests of Christmas (trees)

The Invasives Blog

For many, December means celebrating Christmas and a central part of that is a Christmas tree. Evergreen trees have been used in celebration for centuries. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews used evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life. Pagans worshiped trees, and Romans used evergreen wreaths during the festival of Saturnalia.

The trees commonly used as Christmas decorations come from the genus Picea which is made up of around 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Picaceae. Popular Christmas tree species include Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, and Norway Spruce.

The modern-day Christmas tree is thought to have started in 16th century Germany when Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. The Christmas traditions we know today were shaped by the Victorians, when the first Christmas tree was brought from Germany to the British royal household by Prince Albert in the 1840s. These days, around

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Is parthenium weed allergy problem worse than that of annual ragweed?

A small clump of field-growing parthenium weed plants approximately 80 days old
Photo Credit: S. Adkins

By Asad Shabbir

Parthenium weed and annual ragweed are closely related members of the Asteraceae, known for their high allergenicity. The detrimental effects on human health of the more temperate annual ragweed are very well known. However, those of the more tropical parthenium weed are less well known and in fact much more severe, affecting many tens of millions of people each year.

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