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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

Oseni, G., McGee, K., Dabalen, A. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 7093 (November 2014).

Drawing on nationally representative data from Nigeria’s 2010-2011 General Household Survey Panel, the authors suggest that a 10 percent increase in agricultural productivity decreases the likelihood of being poor by between 2.5 and 3 percent. The authors point out that while larger land holdings tend to result in higher productivity, having more land doesn’t necessarily mean increased productivity. Rather, greater efficiency is the more important factor in increasing income that can be directed to the purchase of diverse, nutritious diets. 

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

FAO, December 2014

Launched during the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), the FAO’s Action for Nutrition Trust Fund will be used to transform commitments and goals from the conference into implementation. The conference also resulted in a voluntary Framework for Action including an array of recommendations, such as strengthening local food production, protecting smallholder farmers, promoting crop diversification, and improving livelihoods and nutrition sensitive social protection, among others. 

Economics That Really Matters Blog, December 2014

Pointing out the gaps in nutrition data gathered as part of traditional large-scale agriculture surveys, Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative (TCi) Program Manager, Katie Ricketts, highlights the need for harmonized data collection for better analysis of nutritional trends. Through the TCi program, the Minimum Nutrition Dataset for Agriculture seeks to develop the most essential metrics for determining nutritional status that can be integrated into ongoing longitudinal surveys. The blog includes impressions from field testing in India and describes how similar dietary diversity scores can be collected effectively and efficiently and analyzed to contextualize diets. 

Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, December 2014

In this article, Patrick Webb argues that the promotion of climate-smart agriculture in the coming year represents a unique opportunity for nutrition advocates. Policymakers focused on climate change benefit from nutrition advocacy on a number of issues that the two sectors share, such as support for farmers to innovate to address climate-related problems, nutrition value of crops in food security, and the establishment of agricultural systems that are sustainable in the future.

Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, January 2015

Patrick Webb highlights recent reports that focus on the nutrient, human, and nutrient digestive cycles that are critical for positive nutrition outcomes. Pointing out the role of good soil health in allowing the plants and animals that we rely on for good nutrition, Webb highlights a report from the Montpellier Panel that argues for increased investment in soil fertility. Webb draws on the Global Nutrition Report and the Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition in emphasizing the long-term effects of poor nutrition early in the human cycle. Finally, in highlighting the role of nutrient digestive cycles, Webb stresses the potential of the gut microbiome in promoting and impeding good nutrition. 

Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services, November 2014

Based on experience from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Central Africa Republic, this report describes the adoption of participatory extension such as the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach in Eastern and Central Africa. The report describes the processes undertaken to mainstream nutrition in the FFS learning process, assesses and documents changes in nutrition knowledge and practice among FFS beneficiaries, and identifies good practices and opportunities to improve the effectiveness of nutrition education in FFSs.

Microlinks, January 2015

USAID’s Leveraging Economic Opportunities (LEO) project has developed a framework that helps development practitioners understand market systems and offers guidance on interventions to increase women’s leadership and participation. Core principles from the framework include: 1) empowerment is about more than just access, 2) facilitate institutional change to address inequality, 3) women need to be leaders of change and not just the recipients of change and 4) know which rules to change and which to keep. 

FAO, November 2014

This 300-plus page book provides a comprehensive look at nutrition security through community agriculture. Drawing on experience captured during the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security: Food-Based Approaches for Improving Diets and Raising Levels of Nutrition, this resource provides perspectives from policy and program experiences and highlights FAO’s unique contributions to improving nutrition through agriculture. The symposium recognized across discussions that household-and food-focused approaches, as well as increased attention on governance and gender-based interventions, present the best potential for moving forward.

HarvestPlus, January 2015

A new interactive online tool is now available to guide stakeholders in deciding where, and in which biofortified crops, to invest. The Biofortification Priority Index (BPI) focuses on three micronutrients—iron, vitamin A, and zinc—deemed among the most limiting in diets worldwide. New varieties of seven staple food crops that contain more of these vitamins and minerals are now widely available. The tool allows users to sort and view results on a color-coded map according to crop, region, and priority for investment. Results are ranked based on a combination of production, consumption, and micronutrient deficiency data.

SecureNutrition Platform, January 2015

This blog by Nitya Rao from Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) examines gender dynamics and the need for better data to understand how gender can contribute to better nutrition through agriculture. Rao describes divisions of labor and the tradeoffs of work versus care and the need to keep men involved in nutritional outcomes as women become more empowered. The blog suggests a gender lens be applied to future efforts to study and understand the links between agriculture and nutrition. 

New York Times, January 2015

Citing recent gains in Africa’s per capita income equaling that of the rest of the world, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt examines rising economic tides through the lens of food. While better economic conditions should allow many Africans that now subsist on starchy staple crops such as cassava to access more diverse and nutritious diets, Leonhardt argues that an enabling environment must also be in place.  Governments and large foundations should also address market failures, he writes, including inadequate roads and lack of knowledge about market prices through greater mobile phone penetration.  

Links to presentations, proceedings, and other meeting materials

Agrilinks, December 2014

This webinar explored USAID’s perspective on nutrition-sensitive programming and pathways that show how nutrition-sensitive interventions can directly impact food security.Richard Greene of the Bureau for Food Security shared a draft guidance document that will form the basis of efforts to assist implementers in applying USAID’s new multi-sectoral nutrition strategy to programs, and encouraged feedback from the global health and food security communities on priorities going forward. Presenters also shared SPRING and INGENAES as examples of technical assistance providers that can help USAID Missions improve nutrition-sensitive programming.

The Institute of International and European Affairs, December 2014

This seminar explored how the need to build resilience to economic, environmental and political shocks in the developing world is intrinsically connected to investment in nutrition and food security. IFPRI Director Shenggen Fan and other panelists discussed the links between these twin challenges and explored concrete policy measures that can be taken to combat chronic malnutrition in post-crisis settings. 

Microlinks, December 2014

USAID/Senegal’s Projet Croissance Economique (PCE), or Economic Growth Project, is a Feed the Future initiative that aims to boost the incomes of smallholder farmers engaged in Senegal’s rice, maize, and millet value chains. During this seminar, the presenters showed two case studies in which contracts and financial services provided smallholders with access to inputs.

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

SPRING, December 2014

During the December Ag2Nut Community Call, FAO’s Nutrition Division Director, Anna Lartey, and WHO Director of Nutrition for Health and Development Francesco Branca joined to discuss outcomes of the ICN2. Discussion was mainly focused on project designs and indicators to monitor progress toward nutrition outcomes, and the role of the food system in providing healthy diets.

A Look Back
Seminal literature with lasting relevance

Anim-Somuah, H., Henson, S., Humphrey, J. and Robinson, E. IDS Evidence Report, No. 28.

This study from September 2013 analyzed policy options toward promoting nutrient-dense foods to reduce undernutrition in Ghana. Markets have the potential to deliver these but are inhibited by market failures such as imperfect information, bounded rationality, and uncertainty. The report identifies four conditions under which value chains contribute to outcomes: value chains must produce adequately nutritious foods, make them available to those that need it, affordable to poor populations, and acceptable to consumer tastes. Inaccessible nutrient-heavy foods currently suffer from aflatoxin contamination, unverified quality, high costs, and lack of awareness among consumers.