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The innovation we seek is to make agriculture work for health - as Hunger Summit concludes, LIDC and partners emphasise importance of integrating agriculture and health

On the closing day of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a Hunger Summit.

LIDC welcomes this timely initiative – recognising the importance of fighting hunger and malnutrition, we have been working on these issues since our establishment in 2007. Our particular focus is on integrating agriculture with health for better nutrition outcomes.

With a five-year £3.5m grant from The Leverhulme Trust, LIDC established a new Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), which brings together researchers from different disciplines in health and agricultural sectors across four Colleges of the University of London. The aim of this collaborative initiative is to develop the interdisciplinary approaches needed to solve complex global problems where agriculture and health are linked, including feeding a growing population healthily and reducing the emergence of new diseases like bird and swine flu.

Ricardo Uauy, professor of Public Health Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and member of LCIRAH, said:

'The importance of nutrition should not be forgotten and I am pleased that the issue is being discussed at this high level.  With the world gathered to celebrate sporting success in the Olympics, this is a great moment to commit to global action on reducing under-nutrition. But it will take many players to achieve this – governments, the private sector and countries themselves.'

Prof. Jeff Waage OBE, Director of LIDC, and Chair of Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH), said:

‘The persistence of under-nutrition is a global tragedy. Food aid and food supplements can address emergency situations, but a sustainable solution must involve improving agriculture and food chains so as to make nutritious food accessible and affordable to all. Even in wealthy countries, food production and distribution is poorly linked to good health outcomes for many people. Eliminating under-nutrition will require that we break down the silos that isolate agriculture, nutrition and health research and policy. The innovation we seek is to make agriculture work for health.’

In August 2012 LCIRAH and the University of Aberdeen were commissioned by UK Department for International Development (DFID) to complete a study on ‘Current and planned research on agriculture for improved nutrition: a mapping and a gap analysis’. The resulting report examines current and future research projects on agriculture for improved nutrition and uses a mapping process to identify gaps in research coverage. Placing nutrition at the centre, the conceptual framework put forward in the report identifies pathways by which innovations in agriculture may contribute directly and indirectly to nutrition and how we should measure their success. The report draws a roadmap for policy-makers and recognises the pivotal role of knowledge and evidence in nutrition policies and programmes.

Resources:

Prof. Jeff Waage on the LIDC blog 'Tackling malnutrition - making agriculture work for health'
Download the report ‘Current and planned research on agriculture for improved nutrition: a mapping and a gap analysis’
Story on the LSHTM website: 'Tackling under-nutrition on a global scale. Nutrition and food security research experts comment on Sunday’s hunger summit'

Related LIDC blog posts on this topic:

E. Coli outbreak: How health and agriculture sectors have failed us by Prof. Jeff Waage
Tackling undernutrition – everyone’s responsibility by Dr. Alan Dangour, LSHTM
Pastoral Famines: Potentially the Most Deadly Kind by Dr. Laura Hammond, SOAS