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Boosting food processing in the third World
Scientific Meetings
IUNS Publication


Boosting food processing in the third World

A first consultation on Food Processing, arranged by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), was held in the Hague, Netherlands, 9-13 November 1981. Representatives of government and industry from developed and developing countries met to consider how to strengthen the food-processing industry in the third world.

The consultation was predicated on the concept that a stronger food-processing industry could help counter the third world's mounting balance-of-payments deficit by giving the South a greater share in the global processed-food market. Although this is the largest single industrial sector in many developing countries, its growth has not led to food self-sufficiency or to maximizing earnings from export crops. Its future success depends largely on integration of the food chain, from raw-material production through storage and processing to marketing and distribution.

With the third world accounting for less than a fifth of global food and beverage processing, the main challenge is to expand the sector to meet developing countries' needs while boosting exports and creating rural employment. A UNIDO study points out that the bulk of the world's processed-food trade is centred around the developed market economies. At the same time, developing countries' imports are dangerously concentrated on key items, such as wheat and dairy products, and their exports-often limited to tropical products-reveal poor diversification.

In fact, food dependency in several developing countries is critical and will grow still worse if serious measures are not taken to change the structure of production and of foreign trade. The study suggests redefinition of food-processing models in the third world to include low energy sources and rehabilitation of basic local crops, with their productivity being substantially improved. Protein-producing plants would replace the traditional "wheat-meat" food chain, while more economical animal husbandry and substitute foods of local origin would be fostered.

Two levels of approach may be taken: (a) strengthening food processing through integrated development of all sectors of food production, processing, and marketing, and (b) increasing technical and economic cooperation for food processing in the third world.

To supply expanding urban areas and increase processed food exports, integration is particularly vital for developing countries when markets for processed food are distant from raw-material supplies. Better ways are needed to coordinate supplies, storage, packaging, transport, pro" ceasing, marketing, and distribution. Maintaining stable crop prices is also important since wide fluctuations cause farmers to vary agricultural output, making supplies to the processing industry uncertain.

The role of foreign companies in various approaches to integration must be considered. Within a well planned and well executed domestic policy, some third-world nations have benefited from contributions of foreign agribusiness. Others have integrated their agro-industries with only limited foreign inputs. In food exports large companies have virtually dominated world marketing and distribution of agricultural goods. Transnational corporations have been able to deliver a "package" of technology, training, marketing, distribution, and capital that has accounted for increased food processing in developing countries, often disregarding the countries' domestic food needs as well as their natural and human resources.

Because the issue of North-South co-operation in the food" processing industry is far from being solved, the consultation sought to adopt a pragmatic approach towards new partnerships between industrialized and developing nations in the context of their respective self-interests.

Further information on the consultation may be obtained from U N I DO, Vienna International Centre, Wagramerstrasse 5, Vienna, Austria.


Scientific meetings

A workshop on the Analysis of the Effect of Income Level on Nutritional Status, sponsored by the United Nations University in collaboration with the Chilean Society of Nutrition, Food Science, and Toxicology, the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA), the Corporation of Economic Research for Latin America (CIEPLAN), the Programme on Critical Poverty IECLA/UNDP), and the Academy of Christian Humanism, was held in Santiago, Chile, 14-16 January 1981. The text below summarizes the objectives of the workshop and the main subjects of discussion.

Los objetivos de este seminario fueron:

- promover el intercam bio de experiencias de investigadores que utilizan diversas metodolog-as y tecnicas, no solo en el estudio del ingreso y de su influencia en la situacion alimentaria y nutricional, sino que tambien de las diversas "variables intervinientes" que anulan o modifican esas influencias.
- relacionar los resultados de las investigaciones, con las pobticas explícitas o no, referentes a cada una de las principales variables en consideration.
- evaluar las contribuciones de cada una de las metodologias de estudio, a las propuestas pare el diseflo de pol iticas y estrategias orientadas a mejorar la situacion alimentaria y nutricional, en especial de la poblacion pobre.

Los debates se centraron en torno a la nutricion y el desarrollo y la apreciacion del estado nutricional de familias urbanas pobres, sobre la base del estudio de ia capacidad de compra, la determinacion objetiva de los indicadores socioeconomicos, y los criterios y las political pare la satisfaccion de las necesidades basicas.

A workshop on Energy Expenditure under Field Conditions, sponsored by the United Nations University and the IUNS Committee 11/6, with the collaboration of Charles University, Prague, Czechoslovakia, was held at Charles University, 6- 8 April 1981. Participants from ten countries contributed to the discussions, which focused on methodological problems of the measurement and evaluation of energy expenditure, individual variability in metabolic rate, and adaptation in energy metabolism. The workshop proceedings, which will include the Papers contributed by individual participants, will be published in collaboration with Charles University and the Czechoslovakian Society for Rational Nutrition, and will serve not only as a collection of recommendations to those working in the field but also as an indication of research still needed on this subject.

A workshop on Protein-Energy Requirements in Developing Countries: Results of Internationally Co-ordinated Research, sponsored by the United Nations University in co-operation with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization and organized by the International Union of Wutritional Sciences Committee l/11 under the chairmanship of Dr. Benjamm Torun, was held in Berkeley, California, USA, 10-14 August 1981. The meeting focused on research, sponsored primarily by the UNU World Hunger Programme and by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through FAO and WHO, completed since the workshop on proteinenergy requirements held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in May 1980.

Papers summarizing this research were presented by the investigators and critically analysed by all participants. The main purpose was to examine the relevance of research
results toward resolving the problem of estimating proteinenergy requirements under conditions prevailing in developing countries. The intent was not to arrive at specific requirement figures or recommendations.

Methodological aspects of different approaches used in estimating protein and energy requirements were discussed first. The group examined the standardization of laboratory determinations from 16 research units that form part of the UNU protein-energy research network and the three supported by DANIDA funds given to FAO/WHO. There was good agreement between results obtained from various laboratories around the world and the reference laboratory.

Methodology for short-term studies (10-day periods for reach level of protein intake) and long-term studies (90 days at one intake level) was analysed. The problem of adaptation to various levels of protein intake and the time required to reach a steady state was judged to be critical. Short-term studies contribute to a first approximation of mean protein requirements and give a measure of interindividual variability. Long-term metabolic studies are essential, since they allow for the time required to adapt and measure intra-individual variability. Any recommendation of requirement should be based not only on metabolic and biochemical indices of protein nutrition but also on functional and health consequences.

New methods using short dietary periods (two or three days) were discussed on the basis of preliminary results from the MIT group and more extensive data from the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama. This approach will require further validation before being applied to estimate requirements.

Studies from India, China, Turkey, Nigeria, and Brazil using the short-term approach with local diets to assess protein-energy requirements were reviewed. These studies in males suggested that present recommendations are sufficient to meet the needs of only about half the population, confirming results obtained in industrialized countries. Data on Egyptian females were also analysed.

There was discussion of long-term studies from Korea, Thailand, and Chile which tested, over periods of 90 to 120 days, the adequacy of safe protein-intake levels derived from short-term studies. Long-term data suggest that protein intake predicted by short-term studies covers long-term protein needs of the groups studied. Although some individuals had periods of negative nitrogen balance related to stress, no adverse effects on functional capacity or health were noted.

Data from large population samples consuming a single intake level were presented from Mexico, Turkey, and Chile, showing normal distribution of nitrogen-balance response. This information is fundamental for estimating the safe protein allowance for population groups.

A study from southern China measured energy expenditure of agricultural and industrial workers. Studies from Guatemala on pregnant and lactating women and from the Philippines, estimating energy expenditure and intake, showed significant unaccounted-for negative energy balance probably because of limitations in the methodology used to measure energy expenditure.

Studies of short- and long-term nitrogen balance in children from Thailand, the Philippines, and Chile provided useful data that will serve to establish a stronger base on which to estimate requirements. Additional studies on specific factors that affect protein-energy requirements were presented, including effects of energy balance, dietary fibre, diarrhoea caused by various infectious agents, and variability in growth.

Summaries of all of these studies and a critical analysis of their significance will be published by the UN University. They were available in draft form for the FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Protein-Energy Requirements held in Rome, 5-17 October 1981, to revise international recommendations, and were instrumental in the decision at this meeting to increase the recommended safe allowance of protein for adults from 0.57 to 0.75, expressed in terms of high-quality protein Appropriate adjustment upward must be made for diets of lesser quality. The full FAO/ WHO/UNU report will also be available shortly.


IUNS publication

The Teaching of Nutrition in the Schools of Nurse Auxiliaries: An International Review of Programmes has recently been published by the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS). It presents the results of a survey undertaken in 1979 by the IUNS Committee V/11

(Education of Nurses and Auxiliary Health Workers) to ascertain the content of nutrition training in the curricula of nurse auxiliaries.

A total of 47 countries and 255 schools, located in all World Health Organization regions, participated in the questionnaire survey. The training of nurses in five main categories of programmes, which varied in length from six months to two years, was reviewed. Information was elicited regarding the type and duration of the programmes and the educational background and age-range of the students admitted. The total number of hours of instruction in the programme and the percentage of time devoted to the theory of nutrition and its practical application (applied nutrition) and/or the "integration" of this subject into the general programme of instruction were considered.

Great variation was found between and within the programmes, both in training content and in orientation (e.g., whether hospital- or community-based). However, there were a number of lacunae common to many of the programmes, specifically in the area of applied nutrition and task analysis. Also, assistance from dieticians was minimal in many schools. The primay instructors in all programmes were nurses with insufficient training in nutrition and inadequate institutional and logistical support -e.g., lacking suitable texts and instructional materials, having few or no opportunities for teaching in the community such as home visiting.

A reference list and a bibliography of texts used in schools participating in the survey form part of the document. Suggestions are made regarding the role of the nurse in nutrition programmes, training needs, and curriculum development as well as criteria for selection of suitable textbooks for trainers and students.

This publication is available from E.F. Patrice Jelliffe, School of Public Health, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA. The cost, including handling and postage, is US$7.25 (payment in US currency, with checks made out to IUNS).

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