- Investments in food security and nutrition yield high returns in terms of poverty eradication and sustainable development. The post-2015 agenda should include a stand-alone target for food security and nutrition.
- The focus should be on the first 1,000 days of life – maternal pre-pregnancy and pregnancy nutrition, and infant nutrition during the first two years of life.
- National governments must lead in multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Many African nations have adopted a Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme generally requiring at least 10 % of national budgets for investments in agriculture. To achieve growth, investments of this magnitude are needed. However, many African governments have neglected spending for agriculture. Underinvestment is particularly problematic in post-conflict nations struggling to rebuild or create institutions.
Investments in nutrition and food security can yield significant returns in terms of economic growth and sustainable development.
Given its history of famine, Ireland prioritises providing aid for hunger eradication, nutrition and climate change resilience. Many deaths in developing countries result from poor nutrition. Many children suffer from stunting due to hunger and malnutrition that diminishes their ability to lead economically productive lives. The focus of development aid in the post-2015 agenda should be on the first 1,000 days of life – from maternal nutrition pre-pregnancy, through pregnancy and continuing through the first two years of infants’ lives.
To support resilience-building for improved food security and nutrition, the European Union will focus on attacking the root causes of the food crisis, strong advocacy, evidence-based approaches to programming, agricultural research, rural development and providing smallholders with access to needed services. Food security and nutrition deserve a stand-alone target in the post-2015 development agenda, but they are related to and thus should be linked with other development targets.
Markets alone cannot solve food insecurity. There must be a multi-sector, partnership approach, involving all relevant government ministries and agencies, schools, the private sector, donors, farmers’ organisations, civil society and local communities. Smallholders should be seen as both part of the private sector and as recipients needing aid and support. The development agenda must not ignore the critical roles that can and should be played by women and young people.
The private sector, not governments, produces food. It must play a vital role in production, minimising waste and harvest loss, and ensuring that people have access not only to calories, but also nutritious foods.
In many developing countries, the average age of farming populations is rapidly increasing as young people leave rural areas for the cities. This demographic trend creates challenges for adequate food production, but also can lead to social unrest if youth migrating to cities lack the necessary skills and opportunities for productive employment. There is a need to create good jobs and investment opportunities in the agriculture sector.
Donors appear committed to addressing food security and nutrition; the required funds appear to be available. The challenge for the post-2015 agenda will be to come up with effective delivery plans and partnerships. National governments must lead.