Nutrition sensitive agriculture

How can the nutrition components of agricultural interventions be strengthened? And how can the nutrition impacts, of existing agricultural interventions, be enhanced?

Photo credit: Benny Lin

Innovative agricultural interventions may improve agricultural productivity, reduce poverty, improve access to services, and improve food and nutrition security. This in turn may improve nutrition and health outcomes. Impacts vary in nature and strength and may be hard to capture. Studies under this research theme seek to understand whether, why and how agricultural interventions improve nutrition.

The relationships between agricultural production, consumption patterns and nutritional outcomes are complex, distant and often weak. The Tackling Agriculture and Nutrition Disconnect in India (TANDI) initiative identified core pathways between agriculture and nutrition.  Some of the pathways identified by TANDI are described below:

Pathways between agriculture and nutrition

  1. Local level interventions in largely non-commercial agricultural systems, especially where a large part of the produce is consumed by local producers, may    result in diversified diets;
  2. Another important pathway may be through the mitigation of extreme poverty, especially among landless groups.
  3. Nutrition knowledge amongst women, child feeding practices and women’s control over income and assets may also have a positive impact on nutritional outcomes. Women’s agency is likely to be pivotal in many contexts, both for the development of agriculture, as well as increasing the nutrition impacts of agriculture – though these links need further elucidation. While feminisation in agricultural work in South Asia is occurring in some areas, greater engagement by women in agriculture does not necessarily result in greater power and control over decision-making. Furthermore, women’s low level of literacy, limited asset holdings and often restricted access to credit and technology hinders their ability to adopt agricultural innovations, which could increase productivity.

Gaps in the research

There are information gaps in the evidence base of agricultural intervention studies aiming to improve nutrition outcomes. For example, we do not know:

  • What are the most appropriate methodologies for evaluation?
  • What are the characteristics of successful programmes?
  • How can successful programmes be delivered at scale?
  • How can the evidence be linked with policy generation?

Nutrition sensitive agriculture

To find the answers to these questions and identify what factors lead to improved nutritional outcomes, we will study four agricultural interventions.  This will help us discover how to strengthen the nutrition components of agriculture interventions and enhance the impacts of existing agricultural interventions on nutrition outcomes.

LANSA will assess the nutritional impact of four pro-nutrition agricultural interventions. This includes:

  • Assessing the impact of farming systems and nutrition knowledge on nutrition outcomes in Bangladesh;
  • Assessing the impact of land grants to landless women on nutrition outcomes in Pakistan;
  • Assessing the impact of nutrition related behaviour change communication using communication technologies in India; 
  • A feasibility study of the Farming System for Nutrition intervention in India.

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