Los Cabos, MEXICO (June 18, 2012) — We welcome the focus and attention these countries are giving to hidden hunger and the global scandal of 170 million stunted children whose futures are threatened; however, these children must become a greater priority of the AgResults initiative.
We applaud the concept of pay-for-results for the private sector to access public funds, although we are concerned this may limit access to these funds to only large global companies with R&D budgets and could rule out locally owned and managed companies and cooperatives in developing countries. We also want to avoid using public funds to subsidize schemes that are already profitable for companies like fertilizer and seed sellers.
The first round of pilot activities focus on maize, but only one of these has the potential to directly impact child nutrition. We would have liked to see AgResults include improving the nutritional content of all major global staples, including rice and wheat. Due to biofuel subsidies and mandates in many G20 countries, increased maize production is being diverted for fuel. AgResults needs to ensure these production increases lead to improved food security and nutrition and not end up in fuel tanks.
The results of this initiative will only be seen over the long term — in the short term there are a large number of proven nutrition solutions that should be immediately scaled up and don’t need further research. We know what works and the roll out of production of new varieties of nutrient-rich vegetables like the sweet potato and food fortification of staple crops need urgent attention alongside new innovations like those promoted by AgResults. We already know the cost benefit ratios of fortification schemes are 8:1, which will almost instantly improve the health status of children and pregnant women. Research and pilots of other new nutrition-focused projects should happen alongside the roll-out of these proven solutions.
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