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"Putting the Lens on the Consumer" - SAFANSI event in Sri Lanka

25-26 June 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI), organised a regional, two day event “Putting the Lens on the Consumer” which explored how governments and the private sector can create and meet the demand for more nutritious foods for the poor.

Participants shared knowledge on a variety of policy, research and partnership initiatives aimed at understanding how consumers interact with food systems, how markets affect their dietary preferences and consumption, and the ways in which government policies can enable or distort nutrition-sensitive food markets.

Ivan Kent, Deputy Director, and Catherine LeBlanc, Partnerships & Engagement Officer, shared findings and recommendations from the Global Panel’s publications and experience with engaging with governments and stakeholders in Africa, Asia and South America. Ivan Kent, also highlighted the need to identify common ground to make progress on improving diets and health, citing the Global Panel’s recent policy brief and potential areas for nutrition-sensitive public-private partnerships across the food system.

Key messages and takeaways

The following key themes and messages emerged from two days of discussion:

  1. The need for better policies that support agricultural & dietary diversity, biofortification, storage systems and markets.
  2. How can government capacity for effective regulation be developed?
  3. The need to create consumer demand through labelling, food based dietary guidelines and education programming.
  4. The need to promote regional collaboration and cooperation to create a coherent voice and a common agenda to prioritise nutrition.
  5. The need to improve the science around nutrition by creating a culture of metrics and data to allow for effective design, measurement and evaluation of nutrition-sensitive policies, programmes and investments.
  6. The need to find a way to bridge the gap between private and public sectors, and call upon civil society to help broker that relationship and build trust.

Organisers from the World Bank reiterated the importance of creating a measurement and metrics agenda, understanding dynamics at the household and intra-household that impact dietary choices, learning more about what the poor value and how this can be leveraged to help them access safe and nutrition food, and considering potential knock-on effects of implementing certain policies.

Government representatives at the event included the Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Healthy and the Secretary to the President; as well as representatives of the governments of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. From the private sector attended representatives of Cargill, Food Industry Asia, the Sri Lankan enterprise Cargills, and Keells Supermarket.