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28 March 2022 | dataset

Building the Evidence Base on the Agricultural Nutrition Nexus: Marshall Islands

This report summarises results of a rapid country scan on the agriculture-nutrition nexus in the
Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Research included a desk review of accessible policies,
programmes and other documents, published and unpublished, as well as a field mission to RMI
from 11 to 30 December 2017. The mission allowed additional quantitative and qualitative data
gathering with interviews, site visits and a small seminar to debrief interviews, present
preliminary findings and discuss potential follow-up with some stakeholders.

One significant and problematic finding from the rapid scan is that: malnutrition, including child
hunger, stunting, obesity, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and other
chronic health problems, appear to be strongly associated with poor diets as well as not enough
cultivation and consumption of traditional and local nutrient dense foods, including a high
dependency on imports making up at least 90% of RMI food supply.

Although the RMI government has undertaken some useful measures in recent years to
address such challenges, this paper suggests there is still an urgent and overarching need for a
whole of government, inter-agency, cross-sectoral response to reduce food import dependency
and associated NCDs in partnership with farmers, fishers, non-governmental organisations
(NGOs), academia, the private sector, investors and donors. A major national transformation is
also essential to encourage national self-sufficiency while improving and expanding local
agriculture production to promote long-term food and nutritional security with climate change
resilience. Such a transformation can build on evidence from scientific research as well as
traditional knowledge and culture. But a full national agriculture census is needed so technical
experts and decision-makers can better understand core agronomic, production, ecological and
socioeconomic data while identifying specific agri-food system sector needs and best target
areas for future investments.

It is hoped this paper can provide some useful evidence and analysis to assist in designing and
implementing a new national capacity strengthening strategy with a clear operational plan that
would measurably improve dietary practices, increase agricultural production and promote new
or improved value chains among more of the population. Such a plan should be considered part
of a long-term systemic investment in food and nutritional security (FNS), as well as national
self-sufficiency for RMI. It could build on existing best practices or promising activities as well as
new initiatives. But any new plan should have specific goals, agreed targets (by RMI’s Cabinet)
and realistic indicators linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The plan should
aim to reduce dependence on non-essential, non-nutritious and otherwise unhealthy food
imports, and to measurably increase local food production and consumption. It could help to
bring new job creation, small business development, private sector investment and innovation,
and other income generation opportunities. Broader outcomes (also linked to SDGs) could be
reduced poverty, improved agri-food system quality and safety, better health and nutrition, more
protected ecosystems to address climate change, and strengthened and diversified community
livelihoods, especially for marginalised Outer Islands peoples.

Data and Resource

Field Value
Publisher Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Modified 28 March 2022
Release Date 28 March 2022
Source URL
Identifier 37e33f59-613a-40ec-a5e0-00fd910248b9
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location Republic of the Marshall Islands
Relevant Countries Republic of the Marshall Islands
Language English (Marshall Islands)
License Public
[Open Data]
Author Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation
Contact Name Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation