The 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) commit all governments to comprehensive, integrated and universal transformations.
However, without adequate and sustained investments in good nutrition, the SDGs will not be realized. The ambition to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ is captured in SDG 2. However, nutrition is at the core of the achievement of the SDGS. In return, the achievement of the SDGs supports nutrition.
Malnutrition will represent an often-invisible impediment to the successful achievement of the SDGs. It results not just from a lack of sufficient and adequately nutritious and safe food, but from a host of intertwined factors linking health, care, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, access to food and resources, women’s empowerment and more.
In April 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025. The Decade aims to catalyze policy commitments that result in measurable action to address all forms of malnutrition. The aim is to ensure all people have access to healthier and more sustainable diets to eradicate all forms of malnutrition worldwide.
A wide variety of business along the agriculture value chain play or could play a role in fighting malnutrition by improving access to safe and nutritious foods. These include businesses that address specific nutritional deficiencies as their core business, such as ready-to-use therapeutic food manufacturers, but also a host of other companies that self-identify in terms of nutrition either very little or not at all. Examples of the type of business across the value chain are outlined below:
- Inputs and production technologies
- Producers, distributors, and retailers of inputs that improve nutritional quality and diversity of crops, e.g. bio-fortified seeds
- Mobile phone service providers who deliver information on market prices, weather and agricultural practices
- Farmers/producers of safe, diverse and nutritious foods for local markets
- Post-harvest handling, storage and transportation
- Providers of preservation technologies
- Sellers and leasers of on-farm storage and/or cold chain systems
- Sellers of cold storage and distribution solutions that preserve food nutrients and reduce waste during transit
- Developers of low-cost packaging innovations
- Processing and manufacturing
- Food companies transforming a food form one form to another e.g. flour mills
- Food companies developing new, more nutritious foods or nutritional enhancement of existing food products
- Flour mills and oil refineries
- Procurement agents for micronutrients used in food fortification
- Producers of complementary and/or therapeutic foods
- Distribution and retail
- Technology-enabled aggregation and distribution of fresh produce
- Proximity-based retailers serving low-income segments in affordable serving sizes and formats.