Inaugural session panel outlines challenges, charts way forward

February 9, 2011

“We are standing face to face with some serious challenges: hunger, malnutrition, and poor health are denying billions of people the opportunity for a healthy, well-nourished, and productive life. Agriculture, which played a key role in feeding billions of poor in the world in the past, faces more volatile growing conditions due to changing climate and scarcer resources because of urbanization and population growth.”

So began tonight’s opening remarks by Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI. Dr. Fan went on to conclude that “all of our efforts—whether in agriculture, nutrition, or health—are inextricably linked. We are more likely to succeed in addressing the challenges if we understand these links and put them to work for people’s benefit.”

Dr. Fan was followed by H.E. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. According to Dr. Singh, the conference’s central theme of “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health” is of particular importance to India and many developing countries where the majority of the population depends on agriculture as its primary source of income. Dr. Singh pointed out that several studies in India have underscored a correlation between the agricultural productivity of a particular state and the nutritional status of its people, but warned that “malnutrition is a complex process in which habits regarding feeding the new born babies, maternal and child health, and also water quality are at least equally important.”

Dr. Fan and Prime Minister Singh as well as several of the other panelists from tonight’s opening session stressed the need to fill in glaring knowledge gaps by exploring important linkages between agriculture, nutrition and health and “by investing in research and education systems that can integrate knowledge from all three sectors.”

For more information, we invite you to visit the conference page at where you can find video presentations, speaker notes and other useful resources.