Building the evidence base on the agricultural nutrition nexus: Vanuatu

Year of Publication: 2018-08-28

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A rapid scan on the agriculture and nutrition situation in Vanuatu was undertaken by Votausi Lucyann Mackenzie-Reur and Keith Kulakit Galgal to build the evidence base for strengthening the linkage between two important sectors – agriculture and health, for improved food and nutrition outcomes.

The food and nutrition situation in Vanuatu has changed over the years as dietary patterns and lifestyles transitioned from a dependence on mostly subsistence living to a more urbanised western lifestyle. This has resulted in increased dependence on imported foods and the consumption of refined foods that contain higher levels of saturated fats and oils, salt and sugar; less physical activity and increased exposure to other risk factors linked to alcohol intake and smoking. Variation between the food and nutrition situation of rural and urban households and between rural households involved in cash cropping and in subsistence farming, and poor and more affluent urban households have been noted.

This study concurs with previous research findings that Vanuatu is dealing with a double burden of malnutrition; characterised by the coexistence of undernutrition along with overweight and obesity, and diet-related noncommunicable diseases. Stunting is a main public health problem 26.3% of children under 5 are stunted. The prevalence of obesity is around 18.8%; hypertension  28.6%, and raised blood glucose level was 21.2%. In all cases, men were more impacted than women. In addition, 58.2% of men and 65.0% of women are eating less than the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per average day.

Urgent action is needed to address the prevalence of malnutrition (in particular stunting, anaemia, iodine deficiency and NCDs; hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart failure), and improve production and consumption of affordable local foods within the changing context of agriculture and agricultural markets and trade in Vanuatu. Lessons from four case studies for improving production of local nutritious foods, diversifying production and training the next generation of farmers and agri-entrepreneurs and recommendations for overcoming institutional barriers to coordinated action are made. The report also includes recommendations as ‘Next steps’: 1. Value chain development and food industry partnerships engagement; 2. Regulatory frameworks, enforcement and compliance and public-private sector collaborations; 3. Training and empowering young farmers; 4. Protecting the vulnerable (gender).



  • Introduction
  • About Vanuatu
  • Status of food and nutrition security
  • Pathways linking agriculture to nutrition
  • The changing context of agriculture and nutrition in Vanuatu
  • The impact of agriculture and nutrition policies on food and nutrition outcomes
  • Case studies
  • Lessons Learned
  • Discussion and conclusion
  • Next steps


Read here how this study has informed the creation of the National Action Plan for Agribusiness and Value Chain Development.