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Poverty reduction through nutritious foods

Worldwide, approximately three billion people have poor-quality diets and more than two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Nearly 25 per cent of children under the age of five are chronically undernourished.

Malnutrition causes health problems and losses in economic productivity, including GDP losses. Over the course of their lifetimes, malnourished individuals can earn 10 per cent less than those who are well-nourished.

Without access to adequate, affordable, nutritious food, generations remain trapped in poverty, unable to take advantage of educational and job opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Investing in nutrition through agriculture is not only socially responsible, it is sound development policy and good economics. Its impact is multi-generational, allowing children to reach their full physical and intellectual potential, so that they can grow into healthy adults and lift themselves out of poverty.

At the forefront of nutrition-sensitive agriculture

Improving food security through better food production systems is at the heart of IFAD’s work. We design our projects through a nutrition- and gender-sensitive lens, helping rural people to improve their diets by growing and consuming diverse, nutritious, safe and affordable foods.

To combat malnutrition, we combine our solid technical knowledge with investments in nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture, through unique food-based approaches. We finance nutritional education and support actions that reshape food systems and improve nutrition security.

We also pay special attention to the role of women and adolescent girls, who make up a large percentage of the workforce in agriculture and food systems in developing countries. They are also the safeguards of nutritious diets in their households.

Empowering women by improving their knowledge of nutrition, as well as promoting maternal nutrition and nutrition of adolescent girls, dietary intake, and hygiene behaviours, can reduce undernutrition for entire generations.

Gender-sensitive agricultural projects help ensure women have more control over resources and that both rural men and women understand the important role that they can play in supporting good nutrition.

Climate change exacerbates the already vast burden of malnutrition and undermines current efforts to reduce hunger and promote nutrition.

As a result, IFAD has increased its commitment to providing resources for issues related to nutrition and is mainstreaming nutrition, gender and climate change actions across all of its programmes and projects.

We promote dialogue among concerned partners, including ministries of agriculture and health, as well as between other areas of government and civil society. This strengthens understanding, brokers collaboration, and promotes new pathways for nutrition- and gender-sensitive agriculture.

IFAD also taps into other reservoirs of knowledge and collaborates with institutions with specialized research skills such as national agricultural research centres and international institutes.

Worldwide knowledge-sharing and collaboration

Governments and development partners around the world are increasingly focused on nutrition-enhancing agricultural investments.

More than 50 countries have now committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a clear demonstration that nutrition is high on the global agenda.

IFAD plays an active role in the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), a platform dedicated to an open, substantive and constructive dialogue on global nutrition strategies and initiatives. The UNSCN is currently chaired by IFAD's Vice-President Michel Mordasini.

Food and nutrition security is both an indicator and a driver of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It is also an investment in the future.

For this reason, the scope of global malnutrition demands a robust and collaborative approach, driven by the local realities of smallholders and rural food systems.


Amidst drought and flooding, Malawian farmers look to diversify their diet

An IFAD-supported project is encouraging Malawian farmers to eat the food they produce - instead of over relying on maize and other food products that they are forced to buy.




The Market Gardening Development Support Project
Read More


Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region
Read More


Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme
Read More

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IFAD and Indonesia invest US$55 million to sustainably improve smallholder farmers` incomes and livelihoods

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he International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Indonesia signed a financing agreement earlier this month to sustainably improve incomes and livelihoods and improve nutrition for 67,400 rural smallholder farming households in 18 districts in Sulawesi Island, West Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara.

FAO, FIDA y PMA unen sus esfuerzos para erradicar el hambre y la malnutrición en América Latina y el Caribe

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Las tres agencias de las Naciones Unidas con sede en Roma – el PMA, la FAO y el FIDA – anunciaron una nueva alianza que permitirá unir sus esfuerzos para apoyar a los países de América Latina y el Caribe a erradicar el hambre, la malnutrición y la pobreza, impulsar el desarrollo rural y avanzar hacia los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS).

Related publications

Developing nutrition-sensitive value chains in Indonesia

febrero 2018
In Indonesia’s eastern Maluku and North Maluku provinces, malnutrition levels are high. Nutrition challenges include monotonous diets with inadequate levels of energy, micronutrients and protein. Studies commissioned by IFAD suggest that strengthened value chains for foods such as bananas, cassava, maize, spinach, sweet potatoes and fish could make business sense for smallholders and lay the foundations for a strong local food system that sustainably delivers nutritious foods for healthy diets.

Results Series Issue 18 - Do agricultural support and cash transfer programmes improve nutritional status?

noviembre 2017

Cash transfer and agricultural support programmes are both used to improve nutrition outcomes in developing countries. This paper examines previous reviews of the impact of these programmes and compares the evidence between the two. The paper finds that, although there are about the same number of programmes of each type, many more papers have been written about the cash transfer programmes than the agricultural programmes. While evidence suggests that both programme types improved the quality of food consumption, the paper concludes that both types show weak evidence of improvements in anthropometric outcomes.


El estado de la seguridad alimentaria y de la nutricion en el mundo 2017

septiembre 2017

La edición de este año de El estado de la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición en el mundo marca el inicio de una nueva era en el seguimiento de los progresos relacionados con la consecución de un mundo sin hambre ni malnutrición, en el marco de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS). En concreto, en el presente informe se hace un seguimiento de los avances logrados en la erradicación del hambre y la malnutrición en todas sus formas.

En el documento se incluye también un análisis temático de la forma en que la seguridad alimentaria y la nutrición se relacionan con los avances en la consecución de otras metas de los ODS. Ampliar la cobertura temática para incluir la nutrición ha supuesto que en la edición de este año el Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF) y la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) se incorporen a la colaboración que la FAO, el FIDA y el PMA vienen manteniendo desde hace años para elaborar este informe anual.

Esperamos que la ampliación de la colaboración resulte en una comprensión más detallada y completa de lo que será necesario hacer para terminar con el hambre y todas las formas de malnutrición, y en medidas más integradas para lograr este objetivo fundamental. 


Bangladesh: Small fish, big gains
Laos: Nutritious Entertainment
Mozambique: Living Healthy
Bolivia: Crazy for Quinoa
India: Millet Madness

Contact us

For questions please contact Joyce Njoro, 

Lead Technical Specialist, Nutrition,

+39 06 5459 2111, 


Juliane Friedrich,

Senior Technical Specialist, Nutrition,  

+39 06 5459 2959,, and