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Abstract

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) underscore an overriding importance of human development for sustained economic, social, political and other development, and nutrition is the beginning of human development. Nutrition has, however, not been viewed as a development imperative in many African countries. Agricultural and health policies, projects and programmes and the conduct of agricultural and health research in most African countries do not consider nutrition to any significant degree. The paper argues that food production, poverty, malnutrition and health are very intricately linked and the result of that linkage is probably the most important determinant of development and, thus, the realization of the MDGs in Africa. It also argues that it is a misconception that food security implies or is synonymous with food and nutrition security. The paper proposes that food policies, projects, programmes and research should focus on food and nutrition security and not just food security. In that regard, the paper proposes that the following interlinked processes must be taken into consideration in agricultural policies, projects, programmes and research: (1) Effective marriage of indigenous and “scientific” knowledge in food production, processing, preservation, preparation and consumption. (2) Promotion of agrobiodiversity, including the domestication of known nutritionally-rich semi-wild plants. (3) Development of sustainable farming systems, including effective crop-livestock integration systems. (4) Development of food production-marketing-consumption-nutrition linkage processes at community levels. National and local level nutrition policy research and advocacy

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