Tackling nutrient deficiencies with sustainable soil management

Bangladesh is still struggling with micronutrient deficiencies, shows a recently published research article in the Internationally acclaimed Journal of Nutritional Science (JNS). These deficiencies are partly caused by the decreasing nutritional value of food cultivated in Bangladesh, because its soil is losing its essential micronutrients. Better soil management can help to tackle the deficiencies in iron, zinc and vitamin A & D with children and (future) mothers, according to FAO.
Although various micronutrient deficiencies have declined in Bangladesh since the early 1980s, a significant portion of preschool-age children still suffer from deficiencies like iron, vitamin A, zinc and vitamin D. And one-third of these children are anaemic. According to the study a high proportion of non-pregnant and non-lactating women is also deficient in zinc, while nearly one-half of the pregnant and lactating women are anaemic in the country.
To improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods in Bangladesh, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) took up an innovative project, called “Sustainable Soil Management for Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia Project.” Bangladesh has been selected as one of three countries besides Burkina Faso and Malawi. These countries are suffering because of micronutrient deficiencies. The project aims to improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods of these three countries.
Promoting and supporting the application of sustainable soil management for nutrition-sensitive agriculture with the purpose to improve the nutritional quality of locally produced foods, is the main objective of this FAO initiated project. Policy guidance for sustainable soil management will be developed by this project with the multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach.
Improving nutrition is necessary for physical and cognitive development and productivity. Good nutrition, sufficient food intake and reduction of illness are basic human rights. It is high time to become concerned about sustainable soil management because it will help to gain back the necessary minerals and micronutrients in food produced by regaining the micronutrient level of the soil. Especially in Bangladesh, which has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world. More than 54% of preschool-age children are stunted and 56% are underweight, while more than 50% of the women suffer chronic energy deficiency. Bangladesh has to take initiatives to improve and secure the health of its population, especially children and women. Improving nutritional quality of locally produced food is one way to fight micronutrient deficiencies.

Read More : Dhaka Tribune, FAO, BIRDEM

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