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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

Research Articles
Recent findings from academic and peer-reviewed journals

Puett, C., Salpeteur, C., Lacroix, E., Zimunya, S.D., Israel, A., Ait-Aissa, M. Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation. (May 2014) Vol. 11, No. 12.

Do vegetable gardens have an impact on the health and well-being of People Living with HIV (PLHIV)? Between 2008 and 2011, a project in Zimbabwe led by Action Contre la Faim supported vegetable consumption through community gardens, analyzing consequent changes to dietary patterns of PLHIV. The study found food consumption and household dietary diversity scores increased with the intervention; this article assesses the cost-effectiveness of the community garden model as a way to improve diet, as compared to other support programs for PLHIV.

Matthias, D.M., Taylor, C.H., Sen, D., Metzler, M. Global Health: Science and Practice. (May 2014) Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 152-164.

This article brings together six case studies, of programs using local markets to advance global health technologies. One study focuses on a fortified rice product rolled out in Brazil (Ultra Rice), including an interesting perspective on the product’s 15-year history. The authors highlight the importance of transferring fortification technology to local companies for supply sustainability and appropriate social marketing plans to ensure demand. A major take-home? Identify an array of local organizations that can own both supply and demand aspects well before a project exits.

Zambrano, L.D., Levy, K., Menezes, N.P., Freeman, M.C. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. (May 2014) Epub ahead of print. 

Animal-source foods are often promoted as key to improving nutrition for vulnerable populations– particularly for protein and iron. However, there is ongoing debate around the harm of zoonotic diseases associated with raising animals in shared family space. This study, coordinated by Emory University, is a combination of review and meta-analysis, exploring the overall effects of domestic animal husbandry on incidence of human diarrhea, as well as specific animal-pathogen pairs. Of 29 studies included for full qualitative review, 21 reported a harmful effect of at least one animal-pathogen pair. The authors call for more targeted research around identification of specific disease-causing animal pathogens, and behavioral research—likely incorporating WASH—to decrease likelihood of transmission.

Baker, P. & Friel, S. Obesity Reviews. (April 2014) Epub ahead of print.

Looking especially at refined sugar, salt, and fats (saturated and unsaturated), this paper compares how consumption of these ‘product vectors’ are converging between lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries in the Asian context. The authors suggest policy-level action is needed to mitigate negative effects on nutrition. 

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

USAID, May 2014

USAID’s Nutrition Strategy embodies a multi-sectoral approach to address both direct and underlying causes of malnutrition. With this strategy, USAID aims to decrease chronic malnutrition, measured by stunting, by 20 percent through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future and Global Health initiatives, the Office of Food for Peace development programs, resilience efforts, and other nutrition investments. Within Feed the Future targeted invention areas, USAID will concentrate resources and monitor impact to reduce the number of stunted children by a minimum of 2 million by 2025.

Feed the Future, May 2014

According to Feed the Future’s third progress report, the initiative has reached nearly 7 million smallholder farmers and helped to save 12.5 million children from the threat of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in just the last year alone. Since it was formed four years ago, Feed the Future and complementary efforts have attracted billions of dollars in investments focused in agriculture, introduced affordable new technologies aimed at increasing agricultural production and managing the risks of a changing climate, and introduced nutrient-packed foods to millions of mothers and children around the world.  

The United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, March 2014

This series of eight country case studies (Brazil, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Thailand) synthesizes and analyzes national policies in the area of food and agriculture, including trade and related sectors using a value chain approach in selected countries at different stages of the nutrition transition.   

The World Bank & ONE Campaign, May 2014

This report presents new data measuring the gender gap in various aspects of agriculture in Africa. A particular focus on six countries— Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda—provides detailed analysis of the factors that account for this gap. The authors then lay out a ten-point policy agenda that African policy-makers, donors, and development organizations could undertake to narrow the gender gap. 

Action Contre la Faim, May 2014

Agricultural development status impacts individual nutrition through food, health, and care practices. Many recent studies are focused on the positive side of the impact pathways, however interventions can also have negative outcomes on nutrition. This working paper identifies six categories of risks related to incomes, prices, types of products, women’s social status and workload, sanitary environment, and inequalities.

View Report (PDF, 613 KB)

The Guardian, April 2014

Challenging nutritional taboos and introducing behavior changes is a complex task, as evidenced by this recent ‘Improving Nutrition Hub’ article on The Guardian’s website. The authors point to research and opinions from a variety of international development organizations, citing successes and barriers to efforts around peer-to-peer education and food fortification. They argue that regardless of approach, socio-cultural norms influence what people want to eat, and these factors must be addressed if progress is to be made.

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA), May 2014

LANSA is a research partnership focused on improving agriculture interventions and food policy to improve nutrition. They recently released a call for policy-related research, with a deadline of June 30th and awards by October 31st. Main areas of interest are: Coordination of policies; Knowledge and evidence around food systems and nutrition; Women’s empowerment; and, Fragility. 

Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security, May 2014

The Africa Centre for Gender Social Research and Impact Assessment is publishing a new peer-reviewed, open access journal. Its stated aim is to “promote interdisciplinary research related to gender and the agricultural food sciences.” Have ideas? The journal is currently accepting submissions for its August 2014 publication, and an associated blog is already active.

Links to presentations, proceedings, and other meeting materials


SPRING, TOPS, and USAID hosted the final segment in a three-part webinar series, Women's Empowerment and Men's Engagement: How a Focus on Gender Can Support Agriculture and Nutrition. Theresa Hwang, Gender Director with CARE USA, and Maureen Miruka, Pathways Team Leader with CARE USA, shared experience from CARE’s rights-based approach to gender equality, which recognizes that men are not only implicated in women’s empowerment, but that their gendered roles impact household poverty and vulnerabilities. 

IFPRI and ILRI, May 2014

Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP) hosted an outreach event in Washington, D.C. to present findings from projects focusing on gender and agriculture. Marie Ruel and Keith Weibe (IFPRI) chaired the event, and representatives from HKI, CARE, BRAC, Harvest Plus, and others gave updates on GAAP portfolio projects. A variety of resources can be accessed from the event.

Agrilinks, April 2014

This seminar featured representatives from two Feed the Future Innovation Labs discussing the mechanisms through which their research is being implemented. R. Muniappan of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab highlighted successful partnership in Nepal that support the Knowledge-based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition (KISAN) project. Irvin Widders, from the Legume Innovation Lab, discussed the Bean Technology Dissemination Award in Central America.

Online Community Corner
Discussions and resources from communities of practice and professional networks

CGIAR/IFPRI,  May 2014

The nexus of gender, agriculture, and nutrition is square in the communities’ spotlight these days, and the CGIAR A4NH program is offering a new blog to keep the discussion going. The site launched in early May, and is already populated with several videos and blogs. Check them out, and stay tuned for more highlights from this new resource.

A Look Back
Seminal literature with lasting relevance

Poats, S V. Issues in Agriculture. (December 1991) No. 3. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

When did the first academic questions around gender and agriculture arise? For the CGIAR it was at least 1986, when a group of researchers at the annual consortium meeting came together over a common feeling: “[G]ender issues needed a special focus as part of the agricultural development process, because different user groups have different technology needs.” See pages 12-20 especially for the evolution of this thinking within CGIAR and its partners, and pages 36-37 for why good gender analysis means reaching out to social scientists.