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News and notes

The role of women in post-harvest food conservation
Workshop on maternal nutrition and infant health
Workshop on research and development needs in the field of fermented foods
Workshop on management of R&D institutions in the area of food science and technology
Publications on nutrition

The role of women in post-harvest food conservation

Four case studies on the Role of Women in Post-harvest Food Conservation will be undertaken as a result of a Consultative Meeting held in Tokyo 20-22 September 1979. The meeting brought together social scientists and food scientists in the first stage of the programme of work recommended by the Advisory Committee of the World Hunger Programme in January 1979.

The Advisory Committee had called for recognition of the role of women in post-harvest preservation and processing of foods at village level as deserving special attention because of the significance of the role women have played in storage and processing of food at the family level.

The World Hunger and Human and Social Development Programmes of the University agreed to undertake a joint programme of work on the above subject to help define the problems, to identify the research studies to be made, and to take the necessary steps to implement such research.

The case studies will be undertaken in Tanzania, Costa Rica, Indonesia, and northern India, in sites for which the necessary base socio-economic data are already available. A survey of information already available on the overall participation of women in the food system in the country will be included in the research report. In each country the study will be conducted by two researchers: one social scientist and one food technologist/nutritionist. The four case studies will contribute to the identification of other issues and problems related to the role and status of women, and will clarify the dimensions and scope of the work to be done later.

They will be discussed, and a future plan of work drawn up, at a second meeting to be held in either late 1980 or early 1981.

Workshop on maternal nutrition and infant health

A workshop on maternal nutrition supplementation programmes and infant health was held in Panajachel, Guatemala, in March 1979. Scientists, public health specialists, and national planners from 12 countries on four continents participated. The report of the discussions appeared in Archivos Latino-americanos de Nutrición, vol. 29, supplement no.1 (1979). The following summary is provided in this publication.

"Results from eight recently completed maternal nutrition intervention studies were reviewed. These studies show that, in malnourished populations, nutritional supplementation during pregnancy increased birth weight. According to the results, the effects were most marked when supplementation was provided in the third trimester of pregnancy, but benefits from supplementation initiated earlier in gestation were also reported. Such changes may be important in terms of resultant decreases in the proportion of low birth-weight infants, reductions in perinatal and infant mortality, and its effects on subsequent child development. Data from several of the studies support the importance of maternal nutritional supplementation on perinatal and infant mortality. Whether the beneficial effects are due to added proteins or energy is a subject not conclusively resolved in these studies, although energy would appear to be a very important factor under the living conditions of the populations studied.

"Present evidence indicates that a large proportion of women of reproductive age are malnourished; many of them also have nursing babies or young children. It was the consensus that sufficient data now exist to anticipate a beneficial impact of maternal nutritional supplementation programmes on maternal and infant well-being. Further knowledge will facilitate refining of capability to intervene, but lack of full knowledge concerning the relationship between maternal malnutrition and infant health should not be used as an excuse for not intervening or not developing appropriate programmes.

"In approaching the problem of maternal malnutrition, governments should avoid two extremes: 1. generating national policies and programmes based on population averages which do not permit identification of those population segments which are most in need of nutrition and health services, or 2. deciding to postpone the establishment of policy and implementation of programmes until after extensive and detailed national surveys have been completed. Usually, needy populations can be identified with the existing information coupled with simple and easily-conducted community surveys in areas projected to have the greatest number of malnourished women and infants. Such community surveys will aid in designing the most appropriate intervention.

"The establishment of policy and developing strategies will require decision and commitment at the highest executive level possible within the government. In accordance with this commitment, an integrated approach to improve the nutritional status of pregnant women, lactating mothers, and young children can then be developed utilizing resources from diverse sectors: agriculture, health, social welfare, education, and national planning, as well as from private companies and organizations.

"Development and implementation of maternal nutrition improvement programmer-whether supplements, better use of local foods, fortification of foods, development of appropriate technology, or extension of preventive health care-must from the outset involve communities and representative recipients. Unless recognition of the problems and their solution within families and communities is achieved, long-term success is unlikely. Community resources must be marshalled or trained to provide and extend services. Community attitudes and practices, vis-ŕ-vis the needs of mothers and infants, must also be changed. In particular, traditional medical care oriented to curing illness must be reoriented towards the prevention of illness by drawing upon local human and other resources.

"The long-term goal must be the attainment of self-sufficiency on the part of the populations being served, with emphasis on production and use of locally available and acceptable foods. All programmes, whether they concentrate on educational or supplementary activities, should therefore keep this goal in immediate focus from the very beginning of their planning. This is especially true in the case of nutritional supplementation programmes since, although they may be expected to provide demonstrable benefits when used to meet identified deficiencies in malnourished groups, they may lead to dependence and counteract therefore the development of self-sufficiency.

"No matter what type of nutritional improvement programme is implemented, it must have a built-in monitoring and evaluation system to improve services and expand coverage, as needed.

"The improvement of the nutritional status and well-being of women and children is the responsibility of national governments. Nevertheless, international and other agencies can contribute to this effort by encouraging governments to recognize the problem, by directing programmes to these target groups, by providing training-and consultative services, and by supporting operational research leading to appropriate technology.

"From the data reviewed in this report, it is clear that maternal nutrition is intimately interwined with infant health and survival. Thus, the problem of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation presents a potentially very serious obstacle to social development."

Workshop on research and development needs in the field of fermented foods

A workshop on Research and Development Needs in the Field of Fermented Foods, sponsored by the United Nations University, was held at Cisarua, Bogor, Indonesia, 14-15 December 1979. The workshop followed the International Symposium on Microbiological Aspects of Food Storage, Processing, and Fermentation in Tropical Asia, also held in Bogor. The workshop was attended by 47 participants from 13 countries who considered matters relating to fermented foods in 10 countries-Egypt, India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Sudan, and Thai land. it has become clear that large amounts of food are wasted annually through spoilage, etc., to the great detriment of the world's poor and undernourished. Many options are open for post-harvest food conservation, but the Western world has been mainly interested in technology for canning, refrigeration, and freezing, all methods which are both expensive and depend on developed infrastructures. Apart from cheeses, wine, and beer, conservation by fermentation is rarely practiced. Elsewhere in the world, in South East Asia particularly, the situation is very different: fermentation is widely used and results in many desirable food products. The purpose of the workshop was to consider such types of food conservation, and to ask such questions as, Is fermentation a field in which the UNU should show a particular interest? Can it be more widely used? What is the nutritive value of fermented foods, and are they safe for consumption? What research and training are needed in this area? Can any specific recommendations be made?

Fermentation is a means of conserving food which requires very limited capital outlay, energy, and packing materials. Its extended use may, therefore, hold much promise for alleviating the problem of world hunger. Because of this potential, the UNU organised the workshop to explore means for extending the technology of fermentation. The participants were asked to consider the present status of food fermentation in the countries represented; to consider problems involved in extending the use of fermentation, including such aspects as technology, safety, economics, and acceptability of fermented products, and to consider the need for action in the fields of reserch, development, academic training, and support of academic institutions in the development of the technology of fermentation.

The workshop reached the following conclusions and recommendations.

  1. Fermented foods are foods prepared by using microorganisms; they usually have greater nutritive value and digestibility, better appearance, and longer shelf-life than the original raw produce and are safe for consumption.
  2. Indigenous fermented foods are generally nutritious, acceptable, and within the means of the world's poor and hungry.
  3. The raw materials for fermented foods are agricultural products, e.g., rice, glutinous rice, wheat, sorghum, corn, soybeans, black gram, cassava, taro meat, milk, eggs, and fish; and agricultural residues, e.g., peanut presscake, soybean hulls, solid tahu/tofu residues, solid cassava flour residues, coconut water.
  4. The technology for fermented foods production is adaptable for home preparation, village-scale operations, and large-scale manufacturing. Therefore it can be adapted to suit any socioeconomic condition prevailing in the place where the foods will be produced.
  5. Fermented foods in general have nutritive values similar to those of the raw materials, but in some cases they have greater amino-acid and vitamin content.
  6. Provided the preparation procedure is properly followed and the raw material does not contain toxic substances, fermented foods are safe for consumption. The workshop was aware of only one fermentation process toxic to humans. This was directly related to the use of improperly handled coconut as an ingredient in the substrate. Until this problem can be solved, coconut should not be used as a substrate.
  7. Acceptability of fermented foods in regions where they have been known for a long time has never been a problem. In areas where they have never been used, however, their acceptability depends on cultural and socio-economic conditions as well as eating habits. There is a need for collaboration with other disciplines such as anthropology and sociology to clarify this problem.
  8. Economically food fermentation is feasible, particularly for low-income groups. In many cases fermentation processes can increase the economic value of some agricultural products and their by-products. Fermentation processes can produce products competitive with animal protein in regards to acceptability and nutrition value at low cost of production. Some considerations in evaluating economic aspects of food fermentation are:

    a. the target group is the low-income consumers
    b. the low cost of production
    c. increased availability of nutritive food
    d. the high conversion rate of production
    e. production/distribution is decentralized or dispersed to villages
    f. in emergencies fermented food can be used for infants
    g. export potential

  9. Prospects for food fermentation vary. Some fermented food production, e.g., soy sauce, has attained to the level of modern industry. For other fermented foods, efforts should be made to expand the simple technology and to promote product acceptability. Fish fermentation can be used as a means of preservation, distribution, and of increasing protein consumption.
  10. Except in a few countries experts in food fermentation are limited. International training and exchange of scientists are advocated. The workshop recommended that UN agencies assist in the international training in this field and create an awareness of the possibilities for technology transfer.
  11. International co-operation is needed through the UNU, ASEAN, and also through national institutions in concert with other countries such as Australia and Japan. Foreign and international agencies can supply financial resources and expertise to assist specific projects identified by local institutes.
  12. Research on various aspects of food fermentation has been done in many countries. However there is still a need to continue and expand research on indigenous fermented foods to define safety, acceptability, and marketing practices, processing parameters, essential micro-organisms, biochemical changes in the substrate, and changes in nutritional value of the raw produce. Most of this research should be done in the countries where the products originated and where they are produced and consumed. Much of the research done on fermented foods around the world remains unpublished. It is proposed that a new journal of indigenous fermented foods be established to publish this information promptly. A newsletter allowing rapid communication among those interested in indigenous fermented food would be extremely useful.
  13. Information on the present consumption of indigenous fermented foods is needed. Soy sauce and fish sauce are used widely in various countries and miso is used throughout Japan, but consumption is gradually decreasing. On the other hand, Indonesian tempeh is becoming widely accepted among American vegetarians and "health food" enthusiasts.
  14. There is a need to continue to collect information and essential details regarding indigenous fermented foods. There are many fermented foods we are very largely ignorant of; for example, Egyptian mish and Mexican pozol were not familiar to most of the participants until this workshop.
  15. There is an urgent need to disperse information and research results on indigenous fermented foods. While some excellent research reports and reviews have been published, there is still a need for expanding the publication of research results in this field. The Symposium on Indigenous Fermented Foods (SlFF), Bangkok, Thailand, 1977, yielded 2,500 pages of manuscript which have been condensed to about 800 pages in a "Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods." This is nearly ready for publication and a publisher is needed.

Specific Recommendations

  1. There is a need to adapt the indigenous fermented foods for infant and weaning foods and for nursing mothers.
  2. There is a need to develop low-salt fermented foods such as soybean and fish pastes that would permit higher consumption of these nutritious foods.
  3. There is a need to develop wholly new fermented foods based upon the principles already discovered in studies of indigenous fermented foods.

Workshop on management of R&D institutions in the area of food science and technology

A workshop on Management of R&D Institutions in the Area of Food Science and Technology was held at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, India, 1724 July 1979. The workshop was sponsored by the United Nations University and was attended by participants from some 18 countries, the World Bank and FAO, as well as UNU Fellows and CFTRI staff members as observers.

The workshop was arranged to discuss the increasingly crucial problem of efficient management of research and development institutions in developing countries. These countries have begun to organize such institutions in order to generate a core of technological competence aimed at meeting their national needs and, especially as the post-harvest technology of foods has evolved into an interdisciplinary field, the question of management has come to the fore. This question of R&D management was discussed in the context of the following considerations (a) the procurement of finances, and budgeting, costing, and accounting; (b) the identification of problems, the planning of programmes, and their implementation; (c) projections into the future; (d) harnessing and orienting the skills of personnel to specific tasks; (e) the creation of an infrastructure such as research laboratories, pilot plants, information systems, quality-control facilities, and technology-transfer mechanisms; and (f) the evaluation of R&D output to account for investments.

Some 30 papers on various aspects of these problems were presented. Precis of these papers, as well as the programme and list of participants are available from CFTRI, Mysore, India.

Publications on nutrition

The ACC-SCN Secretariat has prepared a list of publications on nutrition which are available either free or low in price to people in developing countries. Reprinted below is a list of newsletters, bulletins, and other published material which cover a variety of nutritional topics. Where the information is available, frequency of publication, intended audience, and price are given.

About AVRDC. (Newsletter) Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, PO Box 42, Shanhua, Talman 741, Taiwan.

Afro Newsletter (WHO). (Bimonthly) Community Information and Health Education Service, WHO Regional Office for Africa, PO Box 6, Brazzavilie, People's Rep. of the Congo.

AFYA. (Bimonthly) African Medical and Research Foundation, PO Box 30125, Nairobi, Kenya.

Agenda. (Monthly) Press and Publications Division, Office of Public Affairs, AID, Washington, DC 20523, USA.

Agricultural Credit Newsletter. Agricultural Credit and Banking Group, Marketing and Credit Service, Agricultural Services Div., FAO, 00100 Rome, Italy.

AHRTAG. (Occasional bulletin) Appropriate Health Resources and Technologies Action Group, 85 Marylebone High St., London, WIM 3 ED, UK.

Annotated Bibliographies on Topics Relating to Human Nutrition. Commonwealth Bureau of Nutrition, Bucksburn, Aberdeen, AB2 9SB, Scotland, U.K.

Appropriate Technology for Health. (ATH Newsletter) WHO, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

Archivos Latinoamericanos Nutrición INCAP, Apartado Postal 1188, Guatemala, Guatemala.

Asia/Pacific Consumer. (Regional office newsletter, quarterly) IOCU, Emmastraat 9, 2595 EG The Hague, Netherlands.

At ICRISAT. (Quarterly) International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, 1-11-256 Begumpet, Hyderabad 500016, AP, India.

Bong County Community Health Newsletter. (Monthly) Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing, PO Box 1046, Monrovia, Liberia.

BRAC Newsletter. (Publ. irregularly, US$5 donation) Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, 3 New Circular Rd., Maghbazar, Dacca 17, Bangladesh.

Bread for the World. (Newsletter) Christian Citizens' Movement in the USA, Bread for the World, 207 E 16th St., New York, NY 10003, USA.

Bulletin of the International Pediatric Association. (US$1) PO Box 2, Maltepe, Ankara, Turkey.

Cajanus. (Quarterly) Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute, PO Box 140, Kingston 7, Jamaica.

Casava Newsletter (CIAT). Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, Apartado Aéreo 6713, Cali, Colombia.

Children in the Tropics. (Bimonthly, US$9) Centre International de l'Enfance, Chateau du Longchamp, Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris, France.

CNI Weekly Report. Community Nutrition Institute, 1146 19th St., NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Contact. (Bimonthly, free) Christian Medical Commission, World Council of Churches, 150 route de Ferney, CH 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.

Contemporary Nutrition. (Monthly, US$5 overseas) Nutrition Department, General Mills, Inc., PO Box 1113, Minneapolis, MN 55440, USA.

Defender. (Publ. irregularly) African Medical and Research Foundation, PO Box 30125, Nairobi, Kenya.

Development Communication Report. (Quarterly, free) Academy for Educational Development, 1414 22nd St., NW, Washington, DC 20037, USA.

Development Exchange/Education Échange. Development Education Exchange, Action for Development, FAO, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Directorio de los Centros Latinoamericanos de Investigación en Tecnologia Alimentaria y Nutrición Humana. Oficina Regional pare América Latina, FAO, Casilla 10095, Providencia 871, Santiago, Chile.

El Informador. (Monthly) ASECSA, Apartado Postal n. 27, Chimaltenango, Guatemala.

Famille & Développement. (Quarterly, US$10) B.P. 11, CD Annexe, Dakar, Senegal.

Food and Nutrition. (Quarterly) FAO, Distribution and Sales Section, 00100, Rome, Italy.

Food and Nutrition Bulletin. (Quarterly, US$3) World Hunger Programme, UNU, Toho Seimei Bldg., 2-15-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150, Japan.

Food and Nutrition in Africa. (Bulletin of the joint FAO/ WHO/QUA Regional Food and Nutrition Commission for Africa) PO Box 1628, Accra, Ghana.

Food Monitor. (Bimonthly) World Hunger Year, Inc., PO Box 1975, Garden City, NY 11530, USA.

Glimpse. (Newsletter) International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, GPO Box 128, Dacca 2, Bangladesh

Ideas and Action. (Bimonthly, free) FAO Freedom from Hunger Campaign/Action for Development, 00100 Rome, Italy.

IFPRI Report. (Four-monthly) International Food Policy Research Institute, 1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Informe Anual de Actividades, División de Nutrición Aplicada. Instituto de Nutrición de Centro America y Panama, Guatemala, Guatemala.

International Food Information Service (IFIS). Lane End House, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9BB, U.K.

International FPC News. Nordsildmel, PO Box 1034, N 5001 Bergen, Norway.

IRC Newsletter. (Bimonthly) WHO International Reference Center for Community Water Supply, PO Box 140, 2260 AC Leidschendam, Netherlands.

Les Carnets de l'Enfance. (Quarterly US$6) UNICEF Case Postale 11, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland.

L.l.F.E. Newsletter. (Monthly) League for International Food Education, 1126 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Lik Lik Buk. (K 3.00) Wantok Publications, PO Box 1932, Boroko, Papua New Guinea.

List of Publications. Library of the Central Institute for Nutrition and Food Research TNO, PO Box 360, 3700 AJ Zeist, Netherlands.

News from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAO Liaison Office for North America, 1776 F St., NW, Washington, DC 20437, USA.

Nutrition. (Quarterly, Rs 2) Indian National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad-500007, India.

Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews. (Monthly) Commonwealth Bureau of Nutrition, Bucksburn, Aberdeen AB2 9SB, Scotland, UK.

Nutrition Forum. (Semi-annual) Dr. A.W. Myres, 8th fl., Journal Bldg., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1B6 Canada.

Nutrition News. (Extracts from WHO Chronicle) Nutrition Unit, WHO, CH 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

Nutrition Newsletter. (Quarterly) Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Nutrition Notes. (Quarterly) American Institute of Nutrition, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014, USA.

Nutrition Planning. (Quarterly, abstracts) PO Box 8080, Ann Arbor, Ml 48107, USA.

Nutrition Policy Issues. Nutrition and Government Relations Depts., General Mills, Inc., PO Box 1113, Minneapolis, MN 55440, USA.

Population Reports. (Bimonthly, free) Population Information Program, Johns Hopkins Univ., 625 N Broadway, MD 21205, USA.

Research and Human Needs (A Directory and Bibliography on the Theme). UNESCO, Division of Scientific Research and Higher Education, Place de Fontenoy, 75007 Paris, France

Salubritas. (Quarterly, free) American Public Health Association (APHA), international Health Information Exchange, 1015 15th St., NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA.

Searching. International Development Research Center, PO Box 8500, Ottawa K 1 G 3H9, Canada.

Special Papers. Joint FAO/WHO/OAU Regional Food and Nutrition Commission for Africa, PO Box 1628, Accra, Ghana.

Swasth Hind. (Rs 3) The Director, Central Health Education Bureau, Kotla Marg, New Delhi, India.

Thought for Food. (Monthly) Canadian Hunger Foundation, 323 Chapel St., Ottawa, Ontario KIN 7Z2, Canada.

Tropical Doctor. (Quarterly, US$20) Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St., London WIN 8AE, UK.

Tropical Products Institute Newsletter. Tropical Products Institute, 56-62 Gray's Inn Road, London WC 1 X8LU, UK.

UNICEF News. Quarterly) UNICEF, 866 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA.

UNU Newsletter. The United Nations University, Toho Seimei Bldg., 2-15-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150, Japan.

VIBRO. (Quarterly) Yayasan Indonesia Sejahtera, PO Box 3028, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia.

VITA News. (Quarterly, US$5 donation) Volunteers in Technical Assistance, 3706 Rhode Island Ave., Mt. Ranier, MD 20822, USA.

WHO Chronicle. (Quarterly) WHO, Distribution and Sales Service, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

World Health Organization Publications Catalogue. WHO, Distribution and Sales Service, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

WHO (HQ) and WHO-Sponsored Publications in the Field of Nutrition. WHO, Office of Publications, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland.

World Neighbors in Action. (Quarterly, US$2) World Neighbors, 5116 N Portland Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73112, USA.

World Nutrition Report. Community Nutrition Institute, 1146 19th St., NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Xerophthalmia Club Bulletin. c/o Mrs. A. Pirie, Nuttield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Oxford, UK.

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