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The challenge

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.

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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.

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