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Focus on... Health and agriculture

"Nutrition is the pivotal interface between food security and health security," writes Stuart Gillespie, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Attempts so far to fight health epidemics such as AIDS need to go further; to be examined from a 'multi-dimensional' perspective, taking into account the impact upon whole sectors of the economy - such as agriculture, he says. Agriculture often features little as a major contributor towards the goal of improved health and nutrition in the developing world. But in many cases it is through agricultural practices and produce, that better nutrition can be provided. And if nutrition is indeed the "pivotal interface between food security and health security", then agriculture can play a major role.

This edition focuses on the vital importance of agriculture not only as the backbone of many economies in the developing world, but also as the means to boost national nutrition. Whether as a food supplement, or as a medicinal health remedy, can maximising nutritional qualities of agricultural produce significantly boost food and health security? From vitamin A enhanced sweet potato, to the outdoor pharmacy of Argentina's rugged mountains, the remarkable potential for agricultural practices and the soil's produce to nurture and heal, are explored.

Making the most of mighty moringa

Making the most of mighty moringa

Long overshadowed by the better known Indian variety, Moringa oleifera, Africa's indigenous M. stenopetala is coming out of the shade and becoming more widely known for its medicinal, and nutritional properties.

Date published: January 2007

Marketing medicinal plants - Mercosur's healthy ambition

Latin America has a longstanding tradition of using plants for medicinal purposes. A three-year project across four countries aims to assist small-scale farmers to diversify and increase their income and it is hoped that a recognised system in the four countries will stimulate further investment to support small-scale farmers.

Date published: January 2007

Orange: the colour of VITAA-lity

Orange: the colour of VITAA-lity

The Vitamin A Partnership for Africa (VITAA) programme was launched to encourage farmers in East and Central Africa to cultivate and eat orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. By 2004, an estimated two million Ugandans were eating the new varieties but marketing remained a challenge.

Date published: January 2007

Safeguarding health and culture

Safeguarding health and culture

Collaboration between local herbalists and ethno-botanists in Jamaica has succeeded in preserving traditional knowledge and enabling a wider environmental education programme.

Date published: January 2007

Afghan mint - cleansing body and soul

Afghan mint - cleansing body and soul

A region notorious for its production of opium poppies, the Helmand province of Afghanistan is now becoming known for growing mint as an alternative livelihood for its farmers, who produce the crop for processing into medicinal mint water.

Date published: January 2007

A local answer to famine

A local answer to famine

A hardy root crop known as enset boasts very good drought resistance and, in southwestern Ethiopia, this crop has helped to avoid famine. As these valued characteristics have been better recognised, the crop has spread to other regions within the country.

Date published: January 2007

Mountains better in Latin America

Mountains better in Latin America

South America crops such as quinoa and yacon are amazing survivors. They are also highly nutritious. Until recently these neglected crops of the Andes have been relatively overlooked but crop breeding techniques and improved marketing are beginning to make a difference.

Date published: January 2007

Using plants to fight AIDS

Using plants to fight AIDS

Researchers from The International Center for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies are collaborating with traditional healers in South Africa to study the effectiveness and safety of medicinal plants such as Sutherlandia frutescens in the treatment of wasting diseases, such as AIDS, cancer and TB.

Date published: January 2007

 

 

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