EU Science Hub

Dynamics of food and nutritional security innovations

Feb 27 2014

What do improved home gardens in Java and mobile phone ownership have in common? They are both innovations which had a remarkable impact on food and nutritional security (FNS), and are now being studied by the JRC to outline a more resilient global food system.

A new study documents 110 FNS-related innovations from the past thirty years in the agricultural and other sectors worldwide. Itidentifies success factors for their implementation and spread. It also investigates the role of technological and institutional innovation for improving food and nutrition security, and mitigating therefore the risks and uncertainties inherent to the food system.

The improved home gardens in Java are an example of traditional innovation and have been used as a sustainable strategy to address dietary deficiencies (micronutrients), as well as to improve soil preservation and biodiversity. The gardens act as food buffer stock and have proven to contribute up to 12% and 23% of the recommended dietary intake in vitamin A and C respectively. In addition, home gardens provide the household with certain economic self-sufficiency, as a source of income and access to credit.

Mobile phone ownership is an illustration of an innovation based in new technology innovation. Small size farmers can for instance have improved access to market information or to details on financial and agricultural extension services or on lower transaction and distribution costs.

The analysis classified the type of innovations as institutional, technological, conventional or traditional, and also categorised them by their main purpose such as food availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability. It features an initial 110 records, but will be extended over the coming years, ideally back to the 1960s and the Green Revolution (the period between the 1940s and 60s, which witnessed an increase in agricultural production thanks to several initiatives).

This research is part of FOODSECURE, a global interdisciplinary FP7 project developed by several research institutes on global food and nutrition security. The analysis on FNS-related innovations was produced by the JRC in collaboration with Bonn University.