A new paradigm for world agriculture: Productive, sustainable, nutritious, healthful food systems

  • Welch R
  • Graham R
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Abstract

Micronutrient malnutrition currently affects over 2 billion people worldwide. Poor health, low worker productivity, high rates of mortality and morbidity, increased rates of chronic diseases (coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes), and permanent impairment of cognitive abilities of infants born to micronutrient- deficient mothers are all consequences of micronutrient malnutrition. Furthermore, these deficiencies are contributing to lethargic national development efforts, continued high population growth rates, and a vicious cycle of poverty for massive numbers of underprivileged people in all nations. Food systems globally are not providing enough balanced nutrient output to meet all the nutritional needs of every person, especially resource-poor women, infants, and children in developing countries. Agriculture is partly responsible. It has never made adequate and balanced nutrient output an explicit goal of its production systems. Many agricultural policies may have fostered a decline in nutrition and diet diversity for the poor during the past four decades. Additionally, the nutrition and health communities have never considered using agriculture as a primary tool in their programmes directed at alleviating poor nutrition and ill health globally. A new paradigm for agriculture and nutrition is now needed. We must consider ways that agriculture can contribute to finding sustainable solutions to food system failures through holistic food-based system approaches, thereby closely linking agricultural production to improving human health, livelihood, and well-being. Such action will rouse support for agricultural research worldwide, because it addresses consumer issues as well as agricultural production issues and is, therefore, politically supportable.

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Authors

  • R. M. Welch

  • R. D. Graham

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