Purvi Mehta on Indian agriculture and nutrition—Addressing agricultural disconnects and food disparities

Purvi Mehta, head of agriculture for Asia at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (photo credit: ILRI).

Purvi Mehta is speaking today at a global conference on Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition, which is being held in Bangkok and is organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A former leader of capacity development at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is supporting this conference, Mehta now heads agriculture for Asia at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In a plenary panel session at the Bangkok conference this morning, Mehta said the following.

Costs of malnutrition

We must focus on the costs we well as the causes of malnutrition.

The costs of malnutrition are huge.

A stunted child attends school more than one year less than an adequately nourished child.

One of the biggest reasons for children dropping out of school in India is ill health due to malnutrition, which leads to GDP losses of 8 to 10%.

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Nutrition ministries

Multi-sectoral approaches to malnutrition are extremely important.

Nutrition has become everybody’s job but no one’s responsibility.

We need to centralize accountability—to establish ministries of nutrition. 

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Purvi Mehta was interviewed recently by Devex. Some excerpts from that interview follow. . . .