Building Shared Ownership: Improving Nutrition through Agriculture

Candid participation from agriculture and nutrition stakeholders marked MSSRF-LANSA’s all-India stakeholder consultation at National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), New Delhi on April 9. This meeting was a follow-up of 23 interviews with policy-influencers from different sectors and aimed at building shared ownership with stakeholders by understanding agri-nutrition linkages and disconnects in India. There was participation of high-level officials from Government, Research institutes, UN agencies, industry and media, at the event.

Dr S Nagarajan, Agricultural Advisor, and Ms R V Bhavani, Programme Manager, gave an overview of research studies undertaken by MSSRF in India. Evidence reviews and findings from the stakeholder interviews were presented by Stuart Gillespie, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI / Research Director, LANSA. An open forum on research gaps followed and steps for further action were drawn up. Dr Kalpagam Polasa, Director - National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, and Dr Neelam Grewal, Director – Directorate of Research on Women in Agriculture (DRWA), Orissa, shared examples of good practice. Discussions were encouraged within the framework of four key questions proposed by Prof M S Swaminathan surrounding agriculture, nutrition, gender and age, as well as the UN target of ‘Zero Hunger’.Stakeholders expressed their views on dietary diversity and food habits in the country. The importance of gender, involvement of the private sector, and the need to improve dialogue between decision-making departments also emerged as key concerns.

Announcing LANSA’s first Responsive Window calling for policy-related research proposals, Gillespie talked of agri-nutrition pathways, methodology and conclusions from the landscaping analysis. This was the first major national event for LANSA-MSSRF towards inviting stakeholders to validate or critique findings as a learning experience. Moving forward, Dr Ajay Parida, Executive Director underlined the importance of keeping stakeholders informed of LANSA’s plans and progress.