Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment Nexus in South Asia

Photo Courtesy: Markus Winkler

The livelihoods, nutrition, and incomes of smallholder farmers can be improved substantially if they improve on-farm productivity, increase resource-use efficiency, diversify their crops, gain better market access and find non-farm employment for their households.

Abstract: Food systems are at the nexus of food security, nutritional health, ecosystems, climate change, and prosperity. Agricultural policies have focused on increasing food production, but may have neglected the negative externalities on nutrition, natural capital, and biodiversity. A new paradigm on food system transformation is emerging using the concept of ‘planetary boundaries’ in defining the ‘safe operating space’ for stability of the earth system and human health.

The authors are Representative for South Asia, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Platform Leader-Sustainable Impact, IRRI; and Platform Leader-Agri-food Policy, IRRI, respectively. The article should be cited as Meah N., J. Hellin and J. Balié, 2019. Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment Nexus in South Asia , Geography and You, 19(24): 6-11

Term Power

What is ...

Anthropogenic activities mean human activities which affect nature. These activities cause changes in nature which would not have been possible without human influence.

Bio-fortification is the process by which nutrient levels in crops is improved during plant growth rather than during processing of the crops.

Family food basket is a term for a set of food items used by a population which is sufficient to adequately cover the energy requirements of each member of the family.

Food deficit is defined as the intensity of food deprivation in a country. Intensity of food deprivation is the number of people whose dietary intake falls short of the minimum requirement.

The Green Revolution is an umbrella term for a number of successful agricultural experiments in the 1960’s that drastically improved agricultural production, especially in developing countries.

Groundwater is water that seeps into the ground and accumulates underneath. Groundwater depletion is the result of long-term water-level declines caused by sustained and unrestrained groundwater pumping.

A landrace is an agricultural plant species that has been grown in a specific local environment over a long period of time and has adapted to the environmental conditions of the area of cultivation.

The term micronutrient is used to describe vitamins and minerals as opposed to macronutrients which include proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The human body requires smaller amounts of micronutrients relative to macronutrients.

Stunting is the impaired growth and development of children mostly due to poor nutrition. 38 per cent of Indian children younger than 5 years of age are stunted.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030.

Wasting, or low weight for height, is a result of malnutrition. It is a strong predicator for mortality among children under the age of 5. 20 per cent of Indian children under 5 years of age suffer from wasting due to acute undernutrition.