15 April 2013

Africa: From Farm to Fork - Placing Nutrition At the Heart of Agricultural Planning


A new field tool is being launched today, offering an alternative approach to enhancing the nutritional quality of food, using detailed value chain analysis.

IDS, together with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), are presenting the new tool, 'Nutrition Agriculture by Design: a Tool for Program Planning' at the World Bank today. The tool was developed by the two partners with support from USAID.

"Traditional agricultural projects have focused on enhancing agricultural productivity to improve food security and increase farmers' yields," said John Humphrey Professorial Fellow here at IDS, who will be presenting the tool in Washington DC today.

"It was automatically assumed this would lead to improvements in nutrition. But only recently has nutrition really been considered in the early programme-planning stages of agricultural project design."

Improving nutrition through agricultural programmes

Agriculture can potentially lead to improved nutrition through various routes. One is clearly through increased consumption of nutritious foods by farming households, who have either grown the produce themselves or purchased it with extra income.

But non-farm households purchasing their foods at markets make up a large share of the undernourished and are victim to deteriorating nutritional content of foods as foods travel from farm to fork along the value chain. This is why more focus is needed to make these value chains more nutrition sensitive.

Nutritious Agriculture by Design. A field tool for programme planning specifically places a nutritional focus on agricultural programmes by providing a framework for programme designers and implementers to guide and adjust agricultural interventions through improved linkages with nutrition.

Bonnie McClafferty, Director of Agriculture and Nutrition, at GAIN, said: "The tool consists of a detailed survey decision tree, and identifies opportunities where the nutrition benefits of agricultural interventions can be improved by addressing constraints at version levels of the value chain."

"The tool has been validated on programmes in Africa and Asia, where GAIN and IDS field tested it on specific commodity value chains," added Rebecca Egan, of USAID.

"In Kenya, the tool was tested on USAID's three commodity-based agricultural programmes: the Kenya Maize Development Programme, the Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Programme and the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Programme.

Encouraging collaboration between the agriculture and nutrition sectors

The tool also encourages collaboration between the agriculture and nutrition sectors as well as the public and private sectors. It is specifically designed to be used as a guide for new agricultural programmes, and also highlight ways in which existing programmes might be refined towards enhanced nutritional impacts.

Based on this initial work, GAIN is now further investigating opportunities at three specific points along the rice value chain to determine whether modifications to rice farm inputs and processing can contribute to improved nutrition and, whether private sector incentives exist to pull those nutrition-sensitive farming and processing practices into the market.

These studies will address zinc fertiliser to improve nutrition, and best practices to reducing nutrient loss during parboiling, soaking and polishing

The tool is being presented with SecureNutrition at the World Bank in Washington DC on Monday (April 15) at 12.pm EST. For more information, contact GAIN.

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