Food policy and nutrition economics in the SDG era

The importance of nutrition in development is undisputed, and yet it is only in recent years that it has been taken seriously. Why is this?

Professor Sheryl Hendricks recently explored this question in the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa’s Tomlinson Commemorative Lecture at the University of Pretoria.

According to Hendricks, it was only as the Millennium Development Goals were drawing to a close and the Sustainable Development Goals were being negotiated that the narrow focus of the former (reducing extreme hunger and poverty) was broadened to include food security and nutrition.

SDG2 seeks to: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

The SDGs have brought together three usually separate areas of policy development and practice – namely agriculture, nutrition and sustainable development. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals which applied to developing countries only, the SDGs apply to all countries. All countries have to address them and are judged on their progress in this regard.

Whereas the MDGs largely failed to address the environment, the SDGs call for a bringing together of the three key pillars of economic development, social equity and environmental protection.

It is hoped that this convergence will assist development planners in addressing some of the challenges inherent in complexity. Hendricks explores the role of the

agricultural economics profession in providing support to the delivery of the SDGs and development agendas in the SDG era, arguing that agricultural economists play a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs. She argues that exposing agricultural economics students to a broader domain than consumption theory within the supply-demand confines is essential to building an appreciation for nutrition, behavioural science and poverty dynamics.

Access the full paper here.