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Abstract

Nutritional security is often not adequately considered and addressed in agricultural research and development (R&D) projects, despite the widespread occurrence of malnutrition. In many countries malnutrition constitutes a ‘double burden’, with under-nutrition and increasing obesity happening at the same time. Nutritional insecurity occurs either as a result of choice, of not knowing the nutritive values of food and their importance in diet, and/or as a result of ‘force’ through deficiencies in food supply systems. An assessment of the smallholder farming environment in Papua New Guinea revealed environments that are vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity. While attempts had been made to increase productivity of commodities in demand in these areas, less attention had been given to nutrition. This disconnect can be addressed by considering nutrition in initial stages of R&D planning; and by developing projects that focus on both productivity and nutrition. It may be possible to boost use of traditional vegetables through building nutrition indicators into projects’ monitoring and evaluation systems, and by working with women groups and community organisations to create awareness, with training in schools and health clinics (targeting women) in areas where research projects are implemented.

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