(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Secretary to the President, Austin Fernando on Monday (25), told a South Asian forum in Colombo that legal approaches should be made to ensure that nutrition becomes a compulsory issue in socio economic development. Delivering the key note speech at a South Asian roundtable forum on ‘Putting the Lens on the Consumer in Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems in South Asia’ in Colombo, Fernando said, “It is the poor who suffer most from lack of nutrition.
Emphasis on agricultural systems will not automatically culminate the demands easily. It is easy for the rich to get attention for research, political patronage, and financial support even through multilateral, bilateral or national budgets and media. This could be countered by legal stipulations for compulsory qualitative improvements for nutrition and food systems. Law is not everything, but in our countries it can do a lot.”
The forum to be concluded today would deliberate on some appropriate subjects on demand creation for nutrition in the food system by the poor, public private sector involvements and partnerships. It was organised by the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) together with the World Bank.
Development partners and donors are making nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems a central feature of their support of agriculture investment. In this exercise it is important to engage private sector collaboration to practice nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, Mr. Fernando said.
He also emphasised on the political commitment and efforts to make agricultural policies and programs “nutrition sensitive”, particularly in the region. “In complex social and especially demographic spreads it appears a great challenge to face. Because, malnutrition rates remain alarming in the region it also has to be addressed seriously. Even in Sri Lanka, where the health indicators are among the best in the region, the nutrition indicators do not match with those, particularly the nutritional status of children, women and adolescents. It varies from district to district and even in certain areas based on the conflict situation we were faced with for a few decades.”
“When nutrition data are not in keeping with the overall socio economic development in the country it indicates a potential future risk for the health of the nation and development of the country. With a growing aging population the status will be made further complex.”