Stakeholders in food, agriculture, and nutrition recently came together with the collective intention of the betterment of global health and livelihoods using nutrition smart agricultural solutions.
The first “Global Nutrition Conclave”, held in New Delhi, India on December 13, 2022, was organized by the Agriculture Today Group in association with HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
Nutrition smart agriculture (NSmartAg) initiatives use agriculture and agro-processing techniques and practices to not only improve human nutrition but also increase farm and agribusiness productivity and revenue. The Conclave highlighted the role of various NSmartAg approaches in addressing the challenges of current food systems.
Biofortification is one such initiative that promotes the health of people, the planet, and economies. “Biofortification is suitable for people who primarily eat what they grow and for consumers looking for natural solutions for getting essential micronutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin A,” said Arun Baral, HarvestPlus CEO, at the Conclave.
Sessions featuring Howarth Bouis, World Food Prize Laureate and HarvestPlus Founding Director, as well as several stalwarts from food and agri-input industries and development and funding organizations emphasized the need for triangular and south-south cooperation in promoting knowledge dissemination and policy interventions for mainstreaming NSmartAg to achieve global food security.
Prior to the Conclave, 2023 was declared the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023) by the United Nations General Assembly—an opportunity that will showcase the nutrition and climate smart advantages of the crop. For example, biofortified iron pearl millet has been proven to improve nutrition and cognitive health and is adapted to grow in the face of heat and drought conditions. The Indian Minister of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, shared his support for IYM 2023 at the Conclave, and celebrated Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi desire to revive the age-old culture of consuming millets and enhance the exports of millet-based products from India.
Eminent personalities in India’s culinary space were enthusiastic about the integration of better nutrition into daily meals. Chef Manjit Singh Gill, Chef Pankaj Bhadouria, and Chef Natasha Gandhi had an engaging conversation with Arun Baral, HarvesPlus CEO, about the role of millets in their menus.
Other Conclave sessions included:
- Nutrition with Millets: manufacturing and development experts explored challenges in the value chain of millets, including consumer preferences, and laid out a way forward focused on farm-to-fork interventions to promote the production and consumption of millets in 2023.
- Start-up Ecosystems and Digital Technologies in Agri-Nutrition: the role of digital technologies like farm traceability systems to instill consumer confidence and bring the public policy support needed for budding agri-tech start-ups to thrive was discussed by Ajay Kakra, Managing Partner JU Agri Innovation Venture, and others.
- Business Environment and Investment Opportunities for NSmartAg Systems: insights on the importance of consumer preferences in shaping the business environment and regulatory landscape of nutrition smart food systems were shared by Bhuvaneswari Balasubramanian, GAIN India Program Lead.
The conclave concluded with an award ceremony commending the contributions being made towards the promotion of millet and building nutritious food systems. Award recipients included: Pooja Bhasker, Grameen Foundation India (nutri smart change leader); AgroZee Organics Pvt Ltd (nutri cereal start-up of the year); City King-Arti Roller Flour Mills (nutri smart brand); and Chindi Vasudevappa, National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (nutrition leadership).