Participants at the Global Workshop on Nutrition-sensitive Fish Agri-food Systems, which closed December 8 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, agreed that while evidence is mounting that fish is a solid investment choice, in particular for reducing global undernutrition, more needs to be done to build the case.
The workshop also saw an announcement that WorldFish has become an official member of the Scaling UP Nutrition (SUN) movement. SUN is a global push for action to improve nutrition of all — especially women and children.
Incoming WorldFish Director General, Gareth Johnstone said: “It’s clear that a more compelling case to better understand how fish production and consumption can impact the lives of the poor needs to be made. At WorldFish, I commit to creating an enabling environment for better research and better research collaborations that will make a clearer link between fish agri-food systems and development outcomes including livelihoods and food and nutrition security.”
Shakuntala Thilsted, Research Program Leader, Value Chains and Nutrition said: “Global reports on agriculture are produced that too often make marginal reference to fish and its contribution to livelihoods and food and nutrition security. Membership of SUN will allow us to gain more visibility for fish as a critical means to address nutrition and health. At this workshop, I was particularly pleased to see strong statements of support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IFAD, JICA, USAID and the World Bank among others, in particular recognizing the importance of fish and the need to make nutrition-sensitive investments.”
Fish critical in diets of poor
The Global Workshop on Nutrition-sensitive Fish Agri-food Systems, was convened by WorldFish with support from IFAD, the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia and was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, December 5-8. The event was opened by H.E. Dr. Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), Royal Government of Cambodia
Robert Bertram, chief scientist for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, emphasized the importance of fish for poorer households during the closing session: “People recognize that fish is an especially nutritious food -- this is widely understood. What is less well known is how critical fish is to the diets of the poor in many countries where we work. Using fish more comprehensively can help achieve food security that is sustainable and highly effective in advancing our nutrition goals.”
The event saw 150 participants from 20 countries discussing a need to shift from fish production approaches to fish agri-food systems that are more geared to nutrition-sensitive outcomes.
Participants at the workshop, including representatives of governments, UN organizations, NGOs and research institutes reflected that fish agri-food systems were not as well researched as other areas of agriculture making informed decisions on how to invest difficult.
Through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world has committed to ending all forms of malnutrition. Reorienting food systems across all actors and levels, toward improving nutrition outcomes (nutrition-sensitive food systems) is central to achieving this goal, as was recognized in the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) Framework for Action and further strengthened by the declaration of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-25. The CGIAR has also committed to improvements in food and nutrition security with specific targets for increasing dietary diversity of women and reducing micronutrient deficiencies up to 2030. Fish is uniquely placed to contribute to this goal, yet has received inadequate attention in debates on nutrition-sensitive food systems.