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Agriculture and Nutrition Resource Review

The Agriculture and Nutrition Resource Review is a monthly selection of materials to keep you updated on research and developments related to strengthening linkages between agriculture and nutrition. Resources from this month’s review are featured below. To see materials from earlier editions, or to view resources from across SPRING's technical areas, visit the Resource Review.

Interested in a broader perspective? You can find interesting resources from across SPRING’s technical areas in the Resource Review

Reports, Tools, and Other Related Materials
A diverse collection of programmatic materials and news

The SPRING Project, March 2014.

SPRING has developed a series of briefs that illustrate how evidence-based pathways and principles can strengthen agriculture and nutrition linkages under Feed the Future. Short vignettes from agricultural activities highlight how these concepts can be applied in diverse contexts. The frameworks of the pathways and principles for improving nutrition through agriculture are described in Brief 1: Understanding and Applying Primary Pathways and Principles.  Each subsequent brief explores a different route between agriculture and nutrition: Food Production Pathway, Agriculture Income Pathway and Women's Empowerment Pathway. 

Overseas Development Institute (ODI), January 2014. 

ODI’s Future Diets includes a 100+ page data-rich report, as well as a set of infographics that trace how the changes in diet—more fat, more meat, more sugar, and bigger portions--have led to a looming health crisis. It also looks at how policy-makers have tried to curb our eating excesses—with mixed results.

Action Against Hunger, March 2013. 

ACF International has newly released 3 case studies based on ACF innovative nutrition-sensitive interventions, in Liberia, Guinea and Pakista that complete the 3 previously released in 2012. These 8-page documents demonstrate how food security interventions can achieve better outcomes by using a nutrition lens at different steps of the project cycle.

TOPS, March 2014.

The TOPS Program team of technical specialists has undertaken a review of  final evaluation reports from Food for Peace‐funded development food assistance projects (formerly referred to as Multi‐Year Assistance Projects or Development Assistance Projects) to identify promising practices  in effective food security programming. The TOPS team hopes this will serve as a basis for discussion among the food security community and lead to consensus on promising practices to promote, further identification of additional promising practices, and further field‐testing and/or documentation of promising practices to establish a robust evidence base.

The Guardian, March 2014.

According to a UN special rapporteur, a loss of agrobiodiversity, accelerated soil erosion, and pollution of fresh water from the overuse of chemical fertilizers resulting from the green revolution should be replaced by agroecology—a range of techniques that include intercropping, the use of manure and food scraps as fertilizer, and agroforestry (planting trees). This approach is more environmentally friendly and contributes to both diversified diets and improved nutrition. Although easier to implement on smaller-sized farms, agroecology is also applicable to larger operations.

New York Times, February 2014.

Journalist and critic of the US nutrition architecture writes "Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles—along with several tens of thousands of diet books—are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence."

Secure Nutrition Platform, March 2014.

This blog by Prasun Kumar Das of LANSA describes Farming Systems for Nutrition (FSN), a new farming model that has been developed with the expressed purpose of improving nutrition. It is currently being tested in India.

Links to presentations, proceedings, and other meeting materials

SPRING, March 2014.

SPRING, TOPS, and USAID kicked off the first event in its webinar series, Women’s Empowerment and Men’s Engagement: How a Focus on Gender Can Support Agriculture and Nutrition, with a presentation by Anna Herforth, Independent Consultant, on the three interrelated gender pathways to improved nutrition. Gender Advisor Sylvia Cabus, from the Bureau for Food Security, discussed the links back to USAID’s gender initiatives, followed by a discussion based on participants’ experience.

Agrilinks, February 2014.

This webinar provided an overview of the global malnutrition problem; the main approaches through which the agriculture sector can address malnutrition; some of the agriculture-related issues that can have a negative impact on nutrition; USAID programs and resources to address malnutrition; and an overview of the Feed the Future Nutrition Innovation Labs for Asia and Africa.

Research Articles
Recent findings from academic and peer-reviewed journals

The Lancet Global Health. (2014). Volume 2. Issue 4. pp. e225-e23.

An analysis of 121 Demographic and Health Surveys found an increase in GDP per capita resulted in an insignificant decline in stunting. When researchers compared the changes in GDP to the changes in the number of wasting and underweight children, there was no correlation at all. The authors suggest unequal distribution of wealth and poorly implemented public programs could help explain these findings. The research included surveys from 36 countries, and covered the period 1990 – 2011.

Agbelemoge, A. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development. (2014). Vol. 14. No 1. pp. 8517-8528.

This study, which investigated consumption patterns of leafy vegetables in Nigeria, showed low levels of intake. ‘Ugwu’ was most preferred over other vegetables, including celosia, waterleaf, amaranthus, and okra leaf. Only 35.4% of respondents reported proper handling and preparing of vegetables, and only 9.1% of respondents adopted the most appropriate method of preparing and handling of vegetables for maximum absorption of nutrients.

Malapit, H., Kadiyala, S., Quisumbing, A.R., Cunningham, K., Tyagi, P. (2013). IFPRI Discussion Paper 01313.

Drawing on household survey data from Nepal, this paper investigates the impact of women’s empowerment in agriculture and production diversity on dietary diversity and anthropometric outcomes of mothers and children. Production diversity is positively associated with mothers’ dietary diversity, body mass index, and dietary diversity for children under two. Empowerment indicators are significantly associated with maternal outcomes but have a variable effect on child outcomes. Women’s autonomy in production and hours worked improve maternal and children’s dietary diversity and child height for age z-scores (HAZ).

Grace, K., Brown, M., & McNally, A. (2014). Food Policy. Vol. 46. pp. 56-65.

This study examines the relationship between the price of maize and low birth weight to help quantify the impact of local food prices on one outcome of household food insecurity. The results of several regression models highlight the importance of including community crop production to evaluate maize price impacts on low birth weight outcomes. Because of the positive correlation between pre-pregnancy maize prices and birth weight, the results suggest that some households may benefit from high prices or that high prices may impact the number of conceptions.

Ampek, G. T., Namutebi, F. Turyashemererwa,  F. Muyonga, J. (2013) Food and Nutrition Sciences. Vol. 4. Pages 430-435.

Animal-sourced foods, though good sources of vitamin A, are often too expensive for poor rural populations. Crops biofortified with provitamin A offer a convenient and accessible source of vitamin A, compared to other micro-nutrient fortification and supplementation programs that require more expensive inputs. Biofortified crops rich in provitamin A include: maize, golden rice, cassava, and orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP). Both animal and human studies have shown that provitamin A from biofortified crops is highly bioavailable, and is able to improve vitamin A status. The authors find that, after decades of research and promotion, it is time to fully commercialize provitamin A crops by encouraging farmers to start their large scale production and consumption.