” In the viewpoint of economic analysis, today’s world can be divided into developed and developing countries. The actual difference between them is the difference between development in science and technology,” Professor Dr. Dayananda Bajracharya former vice-chancellor of NAST has mentioned in his article. The development of science and technology is the key element to develop the country. So, adequate scientific discussions are very important to affect the positive change. Usually, the discussions about the political affairs dominate which is more prevalent in this political transition phase of the country and really there are serious lacking of innovative ideas. But, there are silver linings; scientific symposium organized by Nutrition Innovation Lab is one of them which brought scientists, policy makers and planners together in the common platform.
The symposium was the continuation of first symposium which have been organized annually entitled ”Science and Policy for Health, Agriculture, Nutrition and Economic Growth which was held on 13th to 14th August at Hotel Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu. It was my golden opportunity to be in the event as a representative from the YPARD. There were high level representatives from the planning commission, Ministry of Agriculture and Development, Scientists from the different National Universities and from the Universities of USA, undergraduates and Graduates from the IAAS, IOF and IOM and many representatives from the different International organizations. The event organized by the Nutrition Innovation Lab was funded by USAID and was supported by John Hopkins University(USA)and NARC. The initiative was really challenging but ultimately, it was successfully managed.
The symposium was two days event. It begun with the keynote speech by Patrick Webb of the Tufts University on Lancet review:Nutrition Sensitive Intervention after welcome speech by Dr. Sharad Onta of IOM. Dr. Rolf Klemm associate scientist at the John Hopkins University, Dr. Shibani Gosh from the Tufts University and Ms. Pooja Pandey from Suahaara presented on the main theme: Multi-sectoral Nutrition Research and Implementation. As the symposium was a dialogue among the scientists and the policy makers, there were Dr. Praveen Mishra (Secretory, MoHP), Mr. Uttam kumar Bhattrai (Joint Secretary, MoAD), Mr. Bishnu Nepal( Joint Secretary of National Planning Commission) and USAID Director of Health Ms. Shanda Steimer in the inauguration panel for the opening remarks.
The first day presentations were divided into the following three thematic sessions as:
1). Agriculture to Market
- Agriculture and Child Nutrition by Mr. Ganesh Thapa(Purdue University)
- Diversifying family nutrition of small holder tribal farmers through different conservation agriculture production system in hills by Mr. Keshav Thapa(LI-BIRD)
- A study on impact of improved technologies by Mr. RK Neupane (FORWARD Nepal)
2). Market to Home Environment
- Impact of the food price crisis on the affordability of a nutritionally adequate diet across socioeconomic groups in the rural plains of Nepal in 2005 and 2008 by Dr. Naomi Saville(MIRA/UCL)
- No rice in House by Dr. Raman Shrestha (Nutrition Innovation Lab)
- Household food insecurity leads to poor infant growth: what are the linkages by Dr. Keith West( John Hopkins University)
3). Home to Nutrition
- Growth and the health of rural children in 3 districts of Nepal by Ms Neera Joshi( Heifer)
- Impact of homestead food production by Dr. Ram K Chandyo (University of Bergen)
- Analysis of the 2011 Nepal Demographic Health Survey by Dr. Saba Mebrahtu,(UNICEF)
The day two symposium begun with the keynote speech by Dr. John Groopman (john Hopkins University) on Exposure to Aflatoxin by Mothers and Young Children in South Asia: Public Health Implications. The second day presentation were not divided into the particular thematic sessions but the presentations were made in the special topics. The presentations were as
- Total Diet study(TDS) on total aflatoxins(B1, B2, G1, G2) through selected foods in the selected clusters of Nepal by Mr. K.P Rai(DFTQC)
- Thematic Findings on Food Security and Nutrition: An analysis of the National Living Standards surveyIII by Ms. Nicole Menage(WFP)
- Revealing hidden hunger through the plasma proteome of the Nepalese Children: A new approach to assess micronutrient status by Dr. Keith West(John Hopkins University)
2). Poster Presentation
3). Open Discussion
- National Policy Responses to ”the Science”
- Lessons learned, insights and the research priorities for the Agriculture to Nutrition Agenda by Dr. Sharad Onta, Dr. Keith West and Dr. Devendra Gauchan
The perceptive presentations were aided by the elucidatory moderation. The constructive comments section made the participants more clear about their queries. The illustrative poster presentation made the event more interesting. The ways of research patterns, trends of research and ways of descriptive presentations were invaluable gains for me. It was the first time when experts and students from the Agriculture and Health sector come together. The symposium changes the perception about the agriculture career which was usually used to be negative in the Nepali society. The symposium stressed upon the more agricultural researches to provide the baselines for the other researches.
Focus of Symposium
Once Bill Gates told ” Nothing Improves an economy as efficiently as Agriculture” speaking in US senate which once has been reemphasized through series of discussion here at the symposium. Agriculture sector development along with health and nutrition leads to economic growth. It is important to note that integrating science in national policy is must to enhance the economic growth. The symposium insisted in the need of careful multisectorial research with institutional collaboration. It focused on the need of active delivery science, feasible and cost effective tailoring and also focused in the need of enough evidences to validate our research. It also emphasized in the need of descriptive and insightful papers. All those are the essential success factors.
The symposium provided the unique opportunity for networking. It aids in broadening my thinking perspective. It made me more mature in analyzing the issues. The symposium is successful in assimilating the evidences to shape the contextual pathways and feedbacks between agriculture and nutrition in the community.