Building the Evidence Base on the Agricultural Nutrition Nexus: Marshall Islands

Year of Publication: 2018-03-28

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A study conducted by Wayne Nelles on the agriculture-nutrition nexus in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) for the CTA/IFAD/PIPSO ‘Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands’ project emphasises the need of a national cross-sector knowledge based action plan to pursue a national transformation towards increased local food production and consumption to improve food and nutrition security (FNS).

One significant and problematic finding from the rapid scan is that: malnutrition, including child hunger, stunting, obesity, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and other chronic health problems, appear to be strongly related to RMI’s high dependency on imports making up at least 90% of the food supply resulting in poor diets and a declining agricultural sector. Limited cultivation and consumption of traditional and local nutrient dense foods is one of the causes.

A major national transformation is essential to encourage national self-sufficiency while improving and expanding local agriculture production to promote long-term food and nutritional security with climate change resilience. Such a transformation can build on evidence from scientific research as well as traditional knowledge and culture. But a full national agriculture census is needed so technical experts and decision-makers can better understand core agronomic, production, ecological and socioeconomic data while identifying specific agri-food system sector needs and best target areas for future investments.

Research included a desk review as well as a field mission to RMI conducting interviews, site visits and a small seminar to present preliminary findings and discuss potential follow-up with some stakeholders. The report includes:

  • Main actors in RMI implicating Food and Nutrition Security (FNS), agriculture and fisheries;
  • Principal FNS and agriculture related policies, legislation and plans;
  • selected FNS or agriculture related projects and programmes;
  • FNS agriculture related empirical data;
  • General observations and identified needs;
  • Conclusions and recommendations.