A4NH 2017 annual report cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has published its 2017 annual report which highlights the program’s accomplishments and activities during the first year of its second phase.

Detailed in the report are research, events and results from across A4NH’s five research flagships and four focus countries, including:

  • in-depth analyses of food systems in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Vietnam, with a recently released report on findings in Ethiopia;
  • details on the release of 29 new biofortified crop varieties, extending reach to 3.6 million farming households;
  • the first licence for Aflasafe to be granted to a private company in Africa, for production, sale, and distribution in the Gambia and Senegal to protect crops from aflatoxin;
  • a special issue of the journal Global Food Security dedicated to stories of change, an innovative initiative building a resource base of experiential knowledge that explores drivers of change in improving nutrition;
  • research into how rice intensification in Africa can be achieved without increasing the risk of malaria; and
  • efforts on incorporating equity into A4NH’s research agenda.

Download the annual report or read an interactive online version.

A4NH annual report 2016 cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is pleased to announce the publication of its 2016 annual report, detailing the accomplishments and developments of the fifth and final year of the program’s first phase. The report highlights research and results from 2016, including

  • the successful expansion of aflasafe, a biocontrol product helping to fight aflatoxin contamination across Africa;
  • the Stories of Change in Nutrition case study series, which shares experiences to help countries understand how an enabling environment can combine with policies and programs to drive nutritional improvement;
  • the first Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week, held in Addis Ababa, which brought together more than 300 participants from around the world to present research and learn from one another;
  • a randomized trial of an integrated nutrition-sensitive agriculture program in Burkina Faso; and
  • an update on the ongoing impacts of biofortification, with more than 140 varieties of 10 crops released in over 30 countries.

While the activities and accomplishments of each research flagship are laid out, readers will also find a spotlight on A4NH projects and programs in Africa, as well as an update on work related to gender.

Download the report

Tezera a women farmer gets help from her 10 year old daughter in keeping her sheep

Herding sheep in Menz, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

With four successful years completed in 2015, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is excited to draw on important lessons from past years, continue building a strong evidence base and plan for new projects, expanded research areas and opportunities to scale. The A4NH 2015 annual report, which details our latest progress and plans, is now available.

Read more on the A4NH website.

Working in the maize field in Malawi

Working in the maize field in Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The CGIAR Consortium, made up of 15 research centres, carries out agricultural research to contribute to the global effort to find solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger, food and nutrition insecurity, and environmental degradation.

Although there is still some disconnection between agriculture, health and nutrition, it is recognized that agriculture does indeed have important effects on human health. Aflatoxins, for example, pose significant health risks in tropical and subtropical regions.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in more than 40 susceptible crops including maize and groundnuts. Aflatoxins cause around 90,000 cases of liver cancer each year and are strongly associated with stunting and immune suppression in children. Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans.

A new research paper published in the journal Food Security (20 May 2015) discusses how agricultural research by CGIAR can reduce the health risks from aflatoxin exposure for poor consumers while increasing the opportunities for poor farmers.

The paper, International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins, begins with an overview of the evolution of CGIAR research on food safety and aflatoxins.

It then presents case studies to show how risk-based and market-based approaches as well as crop genetic improvement and biological control can help provide justification for and add value to future CGIAR research on aflatoxins.

In conclusion, the authors present five priority research activities:

  1. Generating evidence on the human and animal health impacts of aflatoxins
  2. Understanding the potential of improved technologies and good agricultural practices to reduce aflatoxin exposure in farm households and communities
  3. Assessing the costs and benefits of proposed strategies on aflatoxin reduction as well as other goals such as income and food security
  4. Assessing how costs and benefits are distributed across men and women in households and across different types of households in communities
  5. Understanding factors that facilitate and constrain adoption of aflatoxin control strategies would also be assessed, with particular emphasis on gender issues, incentives and on the role of health information and communication.

The paper was written by scientists from the following CGIAR centres: the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Citation
Grace D, Mahuku G, Hoffmann V, Atherstone C, Upadhyaya HD and Bandyopadhyay R. 2015. International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins. Food Security 7(3): 569-582.

Food Safety and Informal Markets: Animal Products in Sub-Saharan Africa The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last week (4 June) published its 2014 annual report, marking three full years of its first phase of research.

The report highlights a range of research work by the program’s flagships, including the delivery of biofortified crops, work on aflatoxin control and the development of a new global indicator to measure women’s dietary diversity.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) leads the A4NH flagship on agriculture-associated diseases. The annual report features a key output of this flagship, namely, a new book, Food Safety and Informal Markets: Animal Products in Sub-Saharan Africa, published in October 2014.

Edited by ILRI researchers Kristina Roesel and Delia Grace, the book synthesizes lessons from 10 years of food safety research in Africa, including 25 case studies from countries in East, West and Southern Africa, as part of the Safe Food, Fair Food project.

Rinsing fresh fish in Accra, Ghana

Rinsing fresh fish in Accra, Ghana. Food safety systems need to be tailored to fit the contexts of different countries (photo credit: ILRI/Kennedy Bomfeh).

 

Every year, The Chicago Council convenes the Global Food Security Symposium to discuss the progress of the United States government and the international community on addressing global food and nutrition security. This year’s symposium, scheduled for 16 April in Washington DC, will address food systems for improved health.

In the 10-week period leading up the 2015 Global Food Security Symposium, the Chicago Council ran an online campaign, Healthy Food for a Healthy World, with one blog post being published each week to create awareness on the role of agriculture in improving global health and nutrition.

John McDermott, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, and Delia Grace, leader of the Food Safety and Zoonoses program of the International Livestock Research Institute, contributed to the awareness campaign through a guest commentary titled Healthy Foods Must Be Nutritious, Safe and Fair.

In their commentary, they argue that to provide nutritious, safe and fair food to all, food safety systems must be tailored for different national and sub-national contexts.

“In an increasingly globalized world, there are dramatic differences in food systems. Policymakers and the public often assume that one universal system should apply everywhere. But what is good for the rich may be bad for the poor and vice versa.”

They also put forward three key lessons for adapting food safety systems, namely, aligning incentives with policy objectives, adopting risk-based approaches to food safety and developing capacity in food safety governance and practice.

To take part in the online discussions, follow @GlobalAgDev on Twitter, join the discussions using #GlobalAg or tune in to the live stream of the event on 16 April.

The following is an excerpted version of a blog post originally published on the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) website.


Some of the foods that would most enhance nutrition in diets in the developing world are also the riskiest in terms of food safety. Numerous health risks exist along the value chain for livestock and fish products, from production to consumption. In this post, Sophie Theis (Research Analyst, Poverty, Health, Nutrition Division, International Food Policy Research Institute) and Delia Grace (Program Manager, International Livestock Research Institute) relate findings from a recent A4NH/International Livestock Research Institute analysis of 20 livestock and fish value chains in Africa and Asia that reveal how gender differences in value chain participation influence risk exposure.

The results from the participatory risk assessment of these value chains are published in Grace et al. (2010) and a paper analyzing the gendered dimensions of risk is underway by Delia Grace, Sophie Theis, Kristina Roesel, Erastus Kang’ethe and Bassirou Bonfoh.

Selling milk

Selling milk in Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI).

In rural Mali, a Fulani herder finishes milking a cow and hoists the calabash to his head, the milk sloshing gently in the vessel as he carefully carries the milk to Mariam, the woman he works for. By custom, Mariam has never milked a cow, but once the milk is in her domain, she is in charge of its business and use. Today she decides to keep this calabash for the family, since she has been able to sell milk at a favorable price often in the past week. She sets most aside to naturally sour, which will preserve it in the absence of refrigeration; the fermentation gives a sharp taste that consumers find thirst quenching in the hot season.

In the outskirts of Nairobi, Faith works the udders of her dairy cow. A male relative she has hired to help with the milking approaches with another pail of milk. She accepts it absentmindedly; she is already estimating the prices she will get selling the milk to neighbors and the local milk bar and considering whether she should invest the revenues in hiring another person.

In rural Mali, periurban Kenya, and many other parts of Africa, women play important and varied roles in livestock and fish value chains. The milk that Mariam and Faith helped to produce goes both to their families and to the market; it is also valued as gifts and in Mali as a sacrifice that brings blessing and protection against evil.

The decisions that Mariam and Faith make have bearings on many people’s nutrition: the quantity of milk that they keep for their household, how they apportion milk amongst household members, the use of the income from milk that they sell, and – less often acknowledged, but critical – the extent to which they effectively manage food safety risk, preventing contamination of the milk.

Many of the most nutritious foods, including animal source foods, are amongst the riskiest in terms of pathogen transmission. Meat, milk, fish and eggs provide plenty of nutrients for pathogenic organisms and can also carry infections from animals that harbor them to people. Food-borne disease persists as a major public health problem in Africa and Asia, where the majority of these foods are produced by smallholders, marketed through the informal sector, and sold in wet markets.

Food safety in these products is a major concern, as informal markets are important sources of food for the poor and tend to provide food that is more accessible, affordable, and compatible with local preferences for certain varieties of food and quantities than supermarkets.

Women like Mariam and Faith manage risk as they interact with informal markets by selling and buying food for their households. Informal value chains are complex, shaped by a number of actors. While risk management training interventions tend to focus on the owners of livestock or on actors only in one node of the value chain (e.g. butchers), risk management relies on all the actors along the value chain, from production, aggregation, processing, retail, and consumption. Many of these actors are women, and attention to local norms in the division of labor is critical for targeting food safety assessments and interventions.

Read the complete blog post on the A4NH website