The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus

13-14 August 2018, Canberra

Dr Jessica Bogard

Jessica, a former Crawford Fund conference scholar, is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) and Nutrition Systems Scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food. As a dietitian and public health nutritionist, she works predominantly with ‘non-nutritionists’ on approaches to leveraging agriculture and food systems for better nutrition outcomes, particularly among vulnerable population groups including women and young children. Jessica completed her PhD at the University of Queensland where she examined the contribution of fish to nutrition and food security in Bangladesh. Previously she worked for WorldFish, a CGIAR Research Center, developing approaches to integrate nutrition considerations into their work on food security related to fisheries and aquaculture.

Small fish, big impact: nutrition-sensitive fish agri-food systems in Bangladesh

Jessica Bogard and Shamia Chowdhury

Fish plays a vital role in nutritional quality of diets in Bangladesh, especially for the poor. It is also inextricably linked to the culture of Bangladeshi people, and supports the livelihoods of more than 17 million people. Nutrient composition analysis has shown wide variability in the nutritional value of different fish species, with small indigenous fish species (SIS) being a particularly rich source of iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and other micronutrients, in comparison to commonly farmed species. Given widespread malnutrition issues in Bangladesh, there is significant opportunity for fish to play a greater role in contributing to improved food and nutrition security. WorldFish and partners have developed a package of approaches to maximise the benefit of fisheries and aquaculture for nutrition outcomes among vulnerable groups through nutrition-sensitive fish-agri food systems. These involve; inclusion of nutrient-rich SIS in pond polyculture systems, enhanced stocking of SIS in wetlands, integrated vegetable production on pond dykes and homestead gardens, simple processing of fish to improve suitability for consumption by infants and engaging women in fish harvesting to promote frequent consumption of SIS by women and children. These activities are supported by broader approaches including transforming norms, attitudes and practices around gender equity and social behaviour change communication for improved nutrition and hygiene practices. The integrated and multi-component nature of these approaches has shown numerous benefits for nutrition, gender equity, income, and livelihoods. Nutrition-sensitive approaches to fish agri-food systems are central to contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh and beyond.