Skip to main content

Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Starts with Nutrition Sensitive Value Chains

SPRING is partnering with USAID’s Bureau for Food Security to understand how Feed the Future projects can achieve nutrition results from agricultural investments. To better understand how and where linkages to nutrition may be leveraged within agricultural value chain programming, we studied two USAID-funded value chain activities in Guatemala to explore ways in which the value chains could increase their relative nutrition-sensitivity. Both of these activities are Rural Value Chains Projects (RVCPs) and are implemented by two different consortia, Asociación Guatemalteca de Exportadores (AGEXPORT) and the Asociación Nacional del Café (ANACAFÉ).

The RVCPs were designed around income-generation interventions focused on coffee, handicrafts, and horticulture value chains in Guatemala’s Western Highlands, with the goal of diversifying rural income and improving household access to foods. This was expected to increase families’ nutritional status.

After developing interview guides for our questions related to what target value chains look like, how the activities support value chains, and what, if any, changes stakeholders witnessed since they began participating, we conducted field visits and consultations with a range of stakeholders.

Our findings demonstrated areas where nutrition-sensitive agriculture thinking and interventions can be incorporated into RVCP activities and surrounding environments, such as:

  • using technologies like drip irrigation and greenhouses to improve resiliency, increase productivity, and save time and/or energy of producers.
  • revising some production methods, like improving water and soil management, which can lead to increased income and decreased time and labor devoted to maintaining nutrients in soil and crops and fighting erosion. Better soil quality could also improve nutrient quality of crops.
  • bulk drying and pulping coffee during wet seasons could decrease waste caused by fermentation and waste-water runoff into local streams, improving the quality of water used for family consumption.
  • Expand messaging about establishing practices to maximize women’s time and improve their ability to engage in childcare.
  • Safely dispose of agriculture waste materials and avoid contamination of drinking water through misuse of old containers.

These findings are based on opinions and did not emerge from a large-scale evaluation or research project. In order to enhance value chains, we will need more evidence and practical examples; however these suggestions demonstrate feasible ways that value chains could be nutrition-sensitive.

Our report describes opportunities in greater detail which provide possible leverage points for increasing value chains’ nutritional sensitivity and opens the door for discussion of further developments for Guatemala and other Feed the Future country portfolios that will contribute to improved nutrition and agriculture outcomes. We presented a poster highlighting our findings at the Second International Conference on Global Food Security, held at Cornell University, from October 11 to 14, 2015.