Friday, 28 October 2011

From farm to fork

By John Humphrey

In my previous blog post I mentioned I would be taking part in a panel hosted by Business Fights Poverty, talking about ways of ‘harnessing value chains and private sector innovation to boost nutrition.’ I sat with Marc van Ameringen from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Miguel Pestana from Unilever.

The key issues that arose:
  • How can we close the gap between the farm and finger?
There was some divergence of opinion on this. I focused on how to close the gap between farm and the undernourished populations needing more nutritious food. Miguel Pestana from Unilever rightly observed that just focusing on the value chain ignored issues such as sanitation (and some great work is being done at IDS on community-led approaches to improving sanitation) health services and infrastructure. The unresolved question is that while narrowly focused approaches do miss some important determinants of outcomes, the broader the approach, the more the risk that small advances are not made.
  • How do we keep the private sector engaged?
This is a tricky one. To some extent, regulations should be put in place to ensure standards. But there is still the question of incentivising companies to engage in the process of buying and selling nutritious products to the poor. Can companies make a profit from reducing hunger and undernourishment? Bottom of the Pyramid is a great idea, but how well does it really work? And if it doesn't, what we do about it?
  • Finding out what works
The monitoring and evaluation of new initiatives is essential, as from there we can assess how best to take this forward, we are still in very early days. Getting food to those that need it the most is not a new question – agriculture-nutrition linkages has been discussed for a long time, with distinguished contributions from IDS Fellows – but the approach of looking at value chains and the private sector is new territory, and assessments of different value chain initiatives and between these and other approaches (fortification, feeding programmes, etc.) need to be made systematically.

1 comment :

Young Entrepreneur Association for SMEs (YEAS) said...

Thanks for this posting. looking forward to getting further discussion on it.
Mamunur Rahman