Although the public sector is responsible for targeted provision of supplements and services to the poorest of the poor, the private sector is where most people access products and services to meet most of their needs. In other words, the private sector should ideally be the gateway for people to access healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
Despite the world-wide increase of food availability, there are still around one billion people malnourished. Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. The current number of people that are malnourished is far above the target of the first Millennium Development Goal.
By the year 2050, there will be 9 billion people inhabiting planet earth. In the coming decades, food production world wide will have to increase by 70% to make sure that all people on the planet will have access to food. It is a major challenge to make sure that everybody will have access to food, let alone access to nutritious food to make sure that the problem of malnutrition is sufficiently addressed.
Even within the relatively young topic of agriculture-nutrition linkages, the subject of nutrition sensitive value chains is still a novelty. Because the term nutrition sensitive is so new, many of the actors engaging in activities and research use differing definitions.
Socio-cultural beliefs, customs and attitudes towards food have a significant influence on consumption and therefore the dietary status of families. Customs and beliefs can also relate to certain foods that are considered an essential part of the meal or, on contrary, unacceptable for consumption.
In the past, governments and development agencies hardly considered under-nutrition when formulating policies on agriculture. It was assumed that by growing more food, or increasing economic prosperity, better nutrition would be triggered automatically. Now, a growing and increasingly influential wealth of research makes it hard for governments to maintain this position.