Bioversity International: research for development in agricultural and tree biodiversity

Healthy diets from sustainable food systems

Healthy diets from sustainable food systems

A Bioversity International Initiative

The challenge

Dishes prepared on site for a food fair held in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia. The food was judged in a competition for the most nutritious dish.
Credit: Bioversity International/E.Hermanowicz
Dishes prepared on site for a food fair held in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia. The food was judged in a competition for the most nutritious dish.
Credit: Bioversity International/E.Hermanowicz

How can we ensure that 9 billion people will have access to a nutritious and healthy diet that is produced in a sustainable manner by 2050? 

This is the global challenge ahead of us.

Population growth and increasing urbanization are coinciding with an increase of health problems related to poor nutrition around the world:

  • An estimated one in three people on the plant are affected by malnutrition. Of these, 155 million children are stunted.
  • Two billion people are deficient in the essential vitamins and minerals critical for growth and development such as vitamin A, iron and zinc.
  • Nearly 2 billion people are overweight or obese.

"88% of countries face a serious burden of either two or three burdens of malnutrition" - Global Nutrition Report 2017

Diversifying diets that include high quality, safe and nutritious foods can reduce micronutrient deficiencies by providing a rich source of nutrients all year round. Yet national food systems are supplying less diverse food. This is reflected in diets that are monotonous and based on a few staple crops, especially in low-income countries where access to nutrient-rich sources of food, such as animal source foods, fruits and vegetables is a challenge.

From 391,000 known plant species, 5,538 are known to be used for human food. Just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide more than 50% of the world's plant-derived calories.

Download the factsheet

Our solutions

This Bioversity International Initiative studies how agricultural and tree biodiversity can be better used within food production systems through:

Rural to urban agri-food chains

We investigate how agri-food value chains serve as a vehicle to connect producers who are often in rural areas, with consumers in peri-urban and urban areas.

Local agri-food systems

We analyze how a whole-diet approach can contribute to improved nutrition and health among low-income urban and rural consumers.

News

27 Nov 2017

Improving diets in Vietnam with roots, tubers and bananas

Erin Zettell and Jessica Raneri, from Bioversity International, report on how consuming more roots, tubers and bananas, particularly micronutrient-rich varieties, can improve the malnourishment prevalent in northwest Vietnam.

24 Nov 2017

A win-win-win solution for conservation, nutrition and livelihoods

A recent initiative by Bioversity International and partners was shortlisted as one of top ten innovative solutions that promote change in human activities to ensure sustainable food security while conserving biodiversity.

31 Oct 2017

The International Union of Nutritional Sciences turns to food systems

This year's IUNS zoomed in on food systems and the links between nutrition and agriculture, taking on a more holistic approach at tackling malnutrition. Bioversity International actively participated presenting research and co-organizing a symposium.  

26 Oct 2017

Integrating wild and agricultural biodiversity conservation – why we need both

In a chapter of the Routledge Handbook of Agricultural Biodiversity, researchers explore the neglected yet inextricable relationship between both wild and agricultural biodiversity and find some surprising and important linkages and distinctions.

17 Oct 2017

Filling two needs with one deed

An initiative with important potential boosts both nutrition and women empowerment through home gardening.

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