Health-Agriculture Nexus Research Vision

The Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area conducts pioneering research to reduce food and nutrition insecurity, decrease food waste and loss and improve human health. This research focuses on four main themes, outlined below.

Each theme not only advances the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s (FFAR) mission but also supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These 17 global Goals collectively aim to enhance peace and prosperity, eradicate poverty and protect the planet. Through the Health-Agriculture Nexus’ work, we are supporting Goal 2, Zero Hunger; Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production; and Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goal.

1. Increasing Access to Nutritious Foods

Although the U.S. produces enough food to feed the entire population, one in eight Americans are food insecure due to several factors, including financial constraints and/or gaps in distribution models. The phrase food desert—used to describe the lack of food retail stores in certain urban settings—is also used for certain rural areas, including those that have agricultural production. Research in this area uncovers transformational approaches to provide reliable and equitable access to affordable, nutritious foods in these underserved communities so everyone can lead a healthy and active life. This research focuses on affordability, equitability and distribution in rural areas and farming communities.

Connection to the SDG Goal 2

This food access research directly addresses SDG Goal 2, Zero Hunger. Within Goal 2, the research advances Targets 2.1, to end hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious and sufficient food year-round and 2.2, to end malnutrition.

2. Reducing Food Loss and Waste

Enormous amounts of food are wasted daily throughout the food chain, and that involves not only the food and its nutrients but also resources, such as the land, water, energy and agricultural inputs necessary to produce this food. We support research to better understand and evaluate food system interactions, develop technological and non-technological innovations to prevent and reduce food loss and waste and find alternative uses for food waste.

Connection to the SDG Goal 12

This research focus is directly tied to SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. Specifically, within Goal 12, the research advances Target 12.3, to halve per capita global food waste by 2030. The food loss and waste research also furthers Target 12.a, helping developing countries strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to adopt more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

3. Advancing Plant and Animal Production Systems for Better Nutrition and Affordability

Feeding a growing global population with limited arable land and water resources stresses existing plant and animal food systems. This stress affects the agriculture sector’s capacity to address future challenges and produce affordable, nutritious foods. We support research to produce sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food, including designing methodologies that predict the supply of and demand for crops and food animals.

Connection to the SDG Goals 2 and 9

This research focus is directly connected to SDG Goal 2, Zero Hunger. The research specifically targets 2.1, mentioned above and 2.4, to ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices. It also addresses Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure by supporting Target 9.5, enhancing scientific research and upgrading the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries by 2030.

4. Breeding Better Nutrition

Changing consumer food preferences, food demands and weather patterns require us to rethink the foods we produce and how we produce them. We are exploring ways to redesign food systems and their components to address complex problems such as obesity, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and other diet-related diseases.

Connection to the SDG Goal 2

This research focus connects to SDG Goal 2, Zero Hunger, specifically Targets 2.1 and 2.2.

5. Socio-Economic Considerations

Where appropriate, we strongly encourage research that includes socio-economic considerations and collaboration with socio-economic scientists in research proposals. We anticipate that social and economic analyses will be critical to project design, evaluation processes and outcomes in these focus areas.

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