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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Phytosanitary Risk Management team share expertise at ESCON 2019

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Delegates at the International Conference on Environmental Toxicology and Health (ESCON) who met recently in Islamabad, Pakistan.

An entomologist from CABI’s Phytosanitary Risk Management (PRMP) team has participated in the International Conference on Environmental Toxicology and Health (ESCON 2019) held in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Muzammil Farooq, representing the PRMP team, participated in the event – organized by the Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS University (CUI), Vehari campus – by giving a presentation entitled ‘Environment Conservation and Next Generation Pest Management Model for Cydia pomenella (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) – Pakistan (Balochistan province) Perspectives.’

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Growing agriculture: nutrition community points the way to achieving SDG2 by 2030

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

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have launched a race to transform our world for the better little more than a decade from now. The goals are idealistic, setting a high bar for every aspect of quality of life, from health and education to gender equality and climate action. SDG2 seeks to eliminate global hunger by 2030. But as we move closer to that deadline, achieving SDG2 seems further away. Recent years have been particularly disheartening, with the number of undernourished people continuing to rise annually. In 2015, there were 784 million hungry people in the world; in 2016, 804 million; and in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, that number reached 821 million people. Adult obesity also continues to worsen in rich and poor countries alike: More than 1 in 8 adults, or 672 million people around the world, are now considered obese.

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A woman examines and sorts iron beans in Rwanda. Nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, such as biofortification or homestead food production systems, may be well suited for increasing people’s consumption of high-quality diets. Photo courtesy of IFPRI (Mel Oluoch/HarvestPlus)

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Fighting the fungi

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You aren’t from a farming family unless you’ve had ringworm. The distinctive red circular pattern which inches up your arm, its characteristic red flaky skin coupled with a burning itch, was probably caught from some four-legged friend. Catching this fungal skin infection is a rite of passage.

If you’ve ever had ringworm you’ll know there are several remedies. Our old housekeeper’s was to paint your rings in clear nail varnish, a bizarre manicure which seals in the fungal spores so they are unable to reproduce and spread.  Medically the best way to eliminate ringworm or Tinea corporis, if affecting the body, is to treat it pharmaceutically with antifungals. Normally slathering the effected spot in a cream containing clotrimazole does the trick. (1) Continue reading

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 Independent and Health-Informed Tourist?

Mers-virus-3D-imageFULLBy Scinceside – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

An innocuous visit to Dubai
A young friend of my extended family was recently taken seriously ill and ended up in a London hospital following a short trip to Dubai to visit a partner working abroad for a few months. The symptoms of the infection, taken together with the location, and the fact that the trip involved taking a camel ride, led the hospital to suspect deadly MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome). Acting on that basis, the partner was tested in a local hospital in Dubai and sent home to wait-out the 14 day transmission window for this disease.

About MERS
Its caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and infection is linked to travel in the Middle East and close contact with camels, camel secretions and uncooked camel products. The fatality rate is 40%, but deaths are usually linked to underlying medical conditions which weaken the immune response. There is no vaccine: disease transmission is controlled by hygiene, by contact tracing of confirmed cases and the wearing of personal protective equipment by hospital staff (1). Since 2012, 27 countries (including UK) have reported 2266 cases, the majority in Saudi Arabia, with a serious imported outbreak in 2015 in South Korea.

Fortunately the friend turned out not to have MERS but it was a very difficult and traumatic 24 hours finding information to reassure relatives (40% fatality is a scary statistic) … and it set me thinking:

How much can you be expected to know as an independent traveller and what is the responsibility of your tour organiser to inform you? Continue reading

One health – human, animal, environmental and plant health

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Ahead of One Health Day tomorrow (3rd November 2018), Robert Taylor, CABI’s Editorial Director, explores the relationships between human, animal, environmental and plant health…

The ‘One health’ initiative launched in 2007 was designed primarily to break down the barriers between human and veterinary medicine, particularly for dealing with zoonotic diseases. The link between BSE and nvCJD, as well as the threat of new diseases like SARS and threat of old diseases like avian influenza made for a strong case that the health of humans and animals are inter-linked. Since then, ‘One health’ has been expanded to include environmental health as there are many examples of how human activity can harm the health of the environment, and how in turn, a polluted environment adversely affects human health.

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