Skip to main content

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.

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.

Related news


Local agrobiodiversity in Guatemala. Credit: Bioversity International/R. Robitaille

One thousand and ninety seven reasons to celebrate World Food Day

In her World Food Day blog, Ann Tutwiler, Director General, Bioversity International draws attention to the thousands of overlooked food...

Read more

Focus group with Thai men in north-west Vietnam Credit: Institute for Social Development Studies/Van Anh Nguyen

Using vignettes to explore gender issues related to food security and nutrition

Giulia Micheletti, Marlène Elias, and Jessica Raneri of Bioversity International describe a nutrition-sensitive version of GENNOVATE, in which a...

Read more

More than a thousand vegetables, many of them forgotten

Bioversity International and partners reveal that most of the world's vegetable species are poorly documented, and present a study and database with...

Read more

Young woman with child carrying leafy green vegetables from her home garden. Credit: Biovision, December 2017 Newsletter

Diversity from field to fork

Bioversity International collaborates with Biovision to encourage farming families in the Vihiga County of Kenya to grow a wider range of vegetables,...

Read more

Seasonal availability workshop in Dungariya village, Madhya Pradesh, India. Credit: Bioversity International/G. Meldrum

Adding colour to rural diets year round with the Seasonal Food Availability Booklet

From focus group to plate: a new tool developed by Bioversity International to enhance the use of local agrobiodiversity for health and nutrition

Read more

More about the book

Read here

Our strategy

Find out more

Our research portfolio

Find out more

Our partners

Meet our partners

Latest publications

Authors:
Bougma, L.A.; Ouerdraogo, M.H.; Sawadogo, N.; Sawadogo, M.; Balma, D.; Vernooy, R.
Publication Year:
2018
Read more

view all the publications