Paths of convergence for agriculture, health, and wealth


Authors: Dubé, Laurette; Pingali, Prabhu L.; Webb, Patrick


This special feature calls for forward thinking around paths of convergence for agriculture, health, and wealth. Such convergence aims for a richer integration of smallholder farmers into national and global agricultural and food systems, health systems, value chains, and markets. The articles identify analytical innovation, where disciplines intersect, and cross-sectoral action where single, linear, and siloed approaches have traditionally dominated. The issues addressed are framed by three main themes: (i) lessons related to agricultural and food market growth since the 1960s; (ii) experiences related to the integration of smallholder agriculture into national and global business agendas; and (iii) insights into convergence-building institutional design and policy, including a review of complexity science methods that can inform such processes. In this introductory article, we first discuss the perspectives generated for more impactful policy and action when these three themes converge. We then push thematic boundaries to elaborate a roadmap for a broader, solution-oriented, and transdisciplinary approach to science, policies, and actions. As the global urban population crosses the 50% mark, both smallholder and nonsmallholder agriculture are keys in forging rural-urban links, where both farm and nonfarm activities contribute to sustainable nutrition security. The roadmaps would harness the power of business to reduce hunger and poverty for millions of families, contribute to a better alignment between human biology and modern lifestyles, and stem the spread of noncommunicable chronic diseases.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, July 2012