Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Consultation Topic: Agriculture-nutrition Linkages at Population Scale

This discussion will focus on research opportunities related to agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale. This topic spans the enabling environment for food systems. The evolving food systems of today are responding to policies, market dynamics, and how food prices influence the food environment. Further, the constraints related to poor market connectivity, limited processing and storage, and preservation options also influence access to relatively expensive perishable foods. From a consumer perspective, food prices, consumer income, beliefs, information, convenience, taste, and habits shape demand for nutritious foods and thereby shape the markets for entire populations.

We encourage you to actively engage by sharing your experience and thoughts on additional areas for research. Your engagement will inform USAID as it shapes its priorities for nutrition and food systems investments in the future.

Click “Add New Comment” below to start or join the conversation. Please consider these questions as they relate to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab literature review (See Event Resources to the right): 

  • What are the gaps in knowledge related to global and local policy (including trade policy) and markets? Include structure, function and impact on nutrition in your comments.  
  • Can better access to information and services (market information systems, contract farming, and subsidized crop insurance) mitigate risk and encourage production of nutritious foods? 
  • Taxes, prices, and subsidies can constrain or encourage access to healthy diets. How do these affect different demographic groups/settings and private sector engagement?
  • Are there preferred standardized definitions for healthy and unhealthy foods? 
  • Are we aware of the best ways to convey information to nudge consumers towards healthier choices? 
  • What short-, medium-, and long-term outcome measures are missing to measure change in agriculture and food systems for nutrition?  
  • What remains to be done to help guide the development of harmonized measurements for consumer outcomes (food-groups and dietary diversity indicators)? Are there other measurements we should be considering? 

This discussion will remain open from November 12-15 2019. Moderated discussions will take place:

  • November 13, 10-12 AM EST (UCT 15:00-17:00), Ashley Aakesson, Senior Social and Behavior Change Advisor, USAID Advancing Nutrition
  • November 13, 10:00 PM-12:00 AM EST (November 14, UCT 3:00-5:00), Sanele Nkomani, Supervising Dietitian, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, Malawi

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Welcome to the forum on agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale. While we welcome comments at any time, please use the questions above to guide the conversation. Additonally, please join us for the following moderated discussions on this forum: 

  • November 13, 10-12 AM EST (UCT 15:00-17:00), Ashley Aakesson, Senior Social and Behavior Change Advisor, USAID Advancing Nutrition
  • November 13, 10:00 PM-12:00 AM EST (UCT 3:00-5:00), Sanele Nkomani, Supervising Dietitian, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, Malawi

Welcome to the e-consultation session on agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale.  To kick off discussions I would like to highlight some findings from the lit review related policy and market dynamics and  the impact on nutrition outcomes that stuck out to me. See below:

  • Transitioning from relying on subsistence farming to purchasing food through markets is associated with greater dietary diversity and stabilizes diet quality.
  • Open trade remains a controversial issue. However, some benefits such as price stability of food products and potentially promoting dietary diversity have been shown.

Considering these key findings, what are the key future research areas on market dynamics and broader intl/local policy (focus on trade policy)?

Any experiences on what type of govt/international policy has worked in other places and whether any have been linked back to nutrition outcomes like anthropometry?

Countries that rely heavily on imports for food are certainly more vulnerable to price shocks and currency devaluations as is currently the case in Liberia. Open trade is great for nations that cannot grow their own but should policies be to grow your own if you can? IFPRI people must have answers on this...

For a future research area, I suggest focusing on local rural food end markets, those within a defined foodshed. International agricultural trade is interesting, but for food markets serving rural markets, a more limited scope may be worthwhile researching. Rural food markets can support quality diets because they can source nutrient-dense foods within a foodshed. Affordable food items from diverse food groups can be made available year-round, coupled with demand-creation strategies. Research on such a local market dynamic can provide a lot of insights for future program design. For sure, open trade within a foodshed will only serve its consumers well. However, research in an LMIC setting can provide that evidence.

Hi, Victor. Agreed! I think that lack of adequate/affordable options for processing, storing, transport, and physical market-place infrastructure will remain a persistent challenge in strengthening rural food markets--especially taking food safety and hygiene into account. I like the way you put that "open trade within a foodshed will only serve its consumers well." I may steal that! :)

One of the questions asked in the preamble is "Can better access to information and services (market information systems, contract farming, and subsidized crop insurance) mitigate risk and encourage production of nutritious foods?" My organization, Farm Radio International, has worked with Harvest Plus in Uganda, helping more than 10 local radio stations produce farmer-focused information programs about Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato. We also produced two seasons of a serialized drama that fit within these broadcasts and used our digital feedback platform to gauge audience response and understanding. Sweet potato is common in Uganda but not the orange varieties with more beta carotene, the vitamin A precursor. Our broadcasts covered the entire country. In the first season, all clean planting material for OFSP sold out and today, from anecdotal information, there is still demand. So we have no problem creating demand but without a functioning supply system in place,  and knowledge about the production of virus-free planting material, this demand side of the equation will wane. It is not just market information systems.... (not sure how contract farming fits in the question btw ). If demand is created, the markets can respond if the knowledge to produce materials that can supply the market exists. I think there is proabaly existing research on this but clearly an organization such as FRI could offer insights.

Cheers

David

Price has the biggest influence on consumer decisions to purchase food items. The most common proposal studied on this is for taxes on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in European countries. In some developing countries like Malawi where rates of undernutrition are still unacceptably high and linked to poor quality diets (high in staples such as maize and low in animal source foods, fruits and vegetables), how can we use similar principles of taxation and influencing the price to encourage diet diversity.

I think that the weight of price in decision-making and actual purchase, feeding, and eating behaviors varies from market to market, purchaser to purchaser, and also varies over the life course of the purchaser. For example a couple with infants and young children at home may make different purchasing decisions than a couple with older kids who are in school for part of the day, possibly accessing food at school or from snack vendors. A qualitative research methodology to model the weight of price, convenience, desirability, and availability in individual purchase decisions, as well as in conversations that families have about food purchases, would be very helpful. Such a methodology could take Gretel Pelto's excellent focused ethnography work, and the modeling being done in the new Agrifood tool, forward.

Principles of taxation can be used to stabilize the prices of food commodities on the market so that the consumer is able to have access to desired diversified diets, with advise from the nutrition experts, the government should be guided especially on the cross boarder trade, that there should be a balance interms of taxation on food items  between the countries, a difference in the taxation will definitely cause people/consumers of one country suffer from higher prices incured due to difference in taxation between countries.

Therefore, principles of taxation if we'll observed can help the consumers benefit from attaining diversified diets,and contribute to reduction of undernutrition

Great points, Mgudugudu. Are you aware of studies on whether any regional trade agreements have effectively harmonized tax regimes on food commodities among neighboring countries?

Ashley, am not aware of any studies so far on the same, but I have great feeling that if such an intervention can be implemented, food commodities in the neighbering prices can be stable, I have lived in the boarders of Malawi and Tanzania, boarders of Malawi and Zambia and boarders of Malawi and Mozambique and observed closely the issues of taxations have impacted on the food prices, which consequently leaves no choice to the consumer but go for basic life saving food commodities which largely lacks diversity

I've observed similar, especially relating to taxation on livestock, in border areas between Ethiopia/Somalia/Kenya, and Zimbabwe/Botswana.

I am posting another question in the interest of encourgaing more discussion. Please feel free to react to any of other posts I have made.

Cash transfers and food vouchers are an important and a growing part of social protection programming in many developing countries. The goal of these programs is poverty reduction and alleviating food insecurity. How much do we know about the choices of food that beneficiaries make ? What can be done to promote dietary diversity and healthy food choices for beneficiaries? Are they examples of countries already incorporating strategies like nutrition education and behaviour change in cash transfer beneficiaries?

Does anyone have information on results from unconditional cash transfers such as those implemented by Give Directly? We have an activity that has been rolling out trials of such unconditional transfers but it's still too early to say if the diet and nutrition outcomes will be impacted.

In Malawi with save the children international in humanitarian department we have had cash transfer programs, to make it more effective, prior to and during cash distribution, sensitization has been done on nutrition and health, all this is done to make sure people are well informed when they are making their food choices, this is done in collaboration with implementing structures that the government and private sector involved in the implementation

The evidence around contribution of resource transfers to women's empowerment, food security, dietary diversity, and nutritional outcomes, seems to tell a complicated story. It does seem clear that careful targeting and a common understanding among stakeholders of the purpose of the transfer are both key to having positive results. 

Also, as Mgudugudu says, social and behavior change communication and community mobilization to increase the perceived importance of nutrition and health, and to promote specific purchase-preparation-feeding-eating behaviors, are also key components of effective resource transfer programs.

Good day/evening everyone. In a few minutes I'll be posting a few more thoughts and questions related to agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale. Please do continue commenting on production and processing topic as well: the https://www.agrilinks.org/post/consultation-topic-production-and-processing-nutrient-rich-food. 

If you have any thoughts in response to Sanele's posts on this topic, we'd be very interested to hear them. Thank you!

In considering the impact on nutrition of individuals of agriculture and trade policies, agriculture services, and markets at local, regional and national scales, I have found the concept of a personal "food environment" to be useful. Have others found the idea of a food environment which is the interface between food systems and individual diets to be helpful when designing programs and policies, or when conceptualizing research and interpreting research findings?

Ashley, I've found the work of the ANH Academy Food Environment Working Group indispensable for designing research and nutrition-sensitive agriculture programs. We're currently using it in our work in Ethiopia. For reference, this is the brief I'm referring to - https://anh-academy.org/food-environments-technical-brief

Hi, Victor. Thanks for sharing the resource. I hope that as people use the concept of food environments to inform program and policy design, and to frame research questions, that we can refine the concept and understand how to adapt it for local contexts. Looking forward to learning more when you publish about your work!

Thanks for the "nudge" Ashley. I had shared the link at yesterday's webinar, but the chat history was erased for some reason. We've looked into food environments in Ethiopia, and here are preliminary publications that cover 6 regions in Ethiopia, each report covering a region -https://www.aliveandthrive.org/resources/consumption-production-market-access-and-affordability-of-nutritious-foods-in-ethiopia-reports-and-briefs-on-nutrition-sensitive-agriculture-in-six-regions/

Great! Thanks for sharing again! Apparently the chat history reached an upper limit within the webinar platform, so was erased. I guess that's an indicator of the interest in food and agriculture systems for nutrition. :)

Rgarding the first Lit review finding highlighted by Sanele on market dynamics (Transitioning from relying on subsistence farming to purchasing food through markets is associated with greater dietary diversity and stabilizes diet quality): I would like to ask how does this finding fit with reports whereby low-income urban neighbourhoods are more likely to be “food deserts” (areas with low availability or high prices of healthy foods, notably fruits and vegetables)?

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I think Christina and Moffatt's questions both highlight how local markets function differently in urban and rural areas. In rural areas, access to markets is associated with increased dietary diversity, but there is a great deal of seasonal and geographic variation in what safe, nutritious, diverse foods are available in those rural markets. In urban markets, the question of ongoing private sector engagement in increasing access to diverse diets for low income groups continues to challenge us in low and middle income as well as high income countries. 

How can we ensure wet markets exist at accessible locations where consumers can buy diverse foods? Understanding this is a major consideration as a policy lever in the vein of any tax penalties say for sugary or otherwise processed foods that may be of inferior nutritional quality. How can we prevent Urban or Rural food deserts?

Here is  little fun exercise you might want to look at. Get a list of consumer prices for your country which takes about a hour wondering around the open market, than obtain the acknowledge minimum wage and see what a hypothetical family can afford. I have some case studies on a webpage that might be of interest. I base it on my need for 4000 kcal/day to meet econoic opportunities as I mentioned yesterday, and then tried to provide each child a egg a day to avoid stunding. that was based on a webinar at the World Bank I physically attended. But the egg is a real nice little nutritional package to try and fit in the diet or sell for more energy. The webpage is: 

https://smallholderagriculture.agsci.colostate.edu/affordability-of-improved-nutrition-while-optimizing-economic-opportunities/ ;

Hi, Dick. Thanks for your great contributions to the e-consultation so far! There has been a lot of interesting conversation on Agrilinks and elsewhere about the relative inaffordabiltiy of the diet recommended in the Eat/Lancet report. 

It's great that we have evidence to support the contribution of daily egg consumption to improving linear growth among 6-23 month olds. Alive and Thrive, Growth Through Nutrition, and the SAFIRA project in Ethiopia are working to strengthen market linkages and increase purchasing of eggs at local markets specifically for families to feed to this age group. In addition to cultural challenges regarding eating animal source foods during fasting times, there is also the challenge that many eggs produced locally head to towns and cities where consumers can pay higher prices for them.

Even if we are able to increase demand by low-income consumers in rural/peri-urban areas, focused on such a specific population group, would that increase demand and support steady prices for producers and sellers at a level to keep more eggs in those rural/peri-urban markets?

The evidence review found that constraints to market strengthening in rural areas include a lack of options for producer groups or aggregators/traders related to processing, storage, and safe/hygienic infrastructure in physical market places. Does anyone have thoughts about how to use policy as a lever to reduce these constraints, or how to engage private firms and service providers more effectively to bring more options to rural producers and aggregators/traders, individually or in groups?

I think a lot of this goes back to my definition of the overall economic enviroenment which I refer to as financially suppressed with most consumers having very limited buying power placing downward pressure on consumer prices and minimizing the tax base for supporting government services. Thus consumers cannot afford safe/hygienic infrastructure which costs money to maintain that has to be recovered by the consumer prices. 

 As usual i have a good webpage; 

https://smallholderagriculture.agsci.colostate.edu/financially-suppressed-economy-2/ 

 

Thanks to everyone who has engaged in the conversation this morning. As a reminder, you may need to refresh your web browser to see new comments. Additionally, please follow this link to watch a short 10-minute video focused on today's topic, agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale.

The evidence review highlights findings and evidence gaps on how taxes, prices, and subsidies can constrain or encourage access to safe, nutritious, diverse diets. How can we better understand the different impacts of these structural incentives on small versus large firms, and on different demographic and socio-economic groups? 

Does the food environment concept provide a useful way to analyze these differences for population groups?

Are there useful conceptual frameworks for estimating different impacts on different types of private sector actors?

As a reminder, the evidence review outlines some elements of the food environment as including: "prices, consumer income, information, beliefs, habits, culture, demographic status (age, education), food preparation time and convenience, storage capacity (refrigeration), and of course taste."

Great questions, Ashley. I hope we can find a way to draw on work that is being done to measure some of these components of the food environment, as well. Per the discussion above, food prices are one area that we can get good data to determine whether investments in market-led interventions are being successful at making nutrient-rich foods more available and more affordable. I think a key question is how far does price/affordability take us toward improving consumption of a more diverse, nutrient rich diet, especially among the target groups we are most trying to reach (pregnant and lactating women and children under 2)? 

Thanks, Heather! I like the way you frame the "key question". It's related to another issue--can we balance "whole family diet" approaches, which may do more to increase consumer demand at a level that can influence markets with "diets for nutritionally vulnerable family members" approaches, which may do more to increase actual intake by those groups with the greatest need, but may not be a big enough slice of the consumer population to make a difference in markets?

Good evening all! Nutrition security is also related with intra household dynamics (women's enfluence, decision making power and women's work burden at the houshold level in developing countries like Ethiopia. We have not yet finished the research but we are also testing by combining the two concepts: (nutrition and gender) Improving women's decision making and reducing women's work burden by introducing time and labour saving technologies may contribute to nutrition security at household level. It would be nice if someone reflect on this.

Hi, Selamawit! On the SPRING project we found, when providing technical assistance to nutrition-sensitive agriculture projects in multiple countries, that women's time and labor were overlooked areas of analysis. Leveraging private sector actors to develop, adapt, and increase the supply of affordable time and labor saving technologies tailored to women's needs and priorities would be an exciting and sustainable way to tackle the time and labor demand challenges.

There is promising evidence that increased women's participation in decision-making, and increased joint control of household resources and income, does positively influence production diversity and dietary diversity. When do you anticipate that your research will be completed? It sounds really interesting!

Hi Selamawit, I think it will also be interesting to look into how women's influence, decision-making power and work burden also influence their market purchase decisions and food choices. Food is sourced not only from own production, but also from transfers (such as PSNP), and those bought from local food markets. What happens in rural food markets is very interesting, as men and women certainly engage in different activities at the marketplace. I think it would be interesting to see if/how empowerment is related to drivers of food choice.

Why Don't We Have More Information of Calorie Exersion vs Calorie Available

With all the effort committed to improving nutrition of poor people relying largely on manual labor to meet thier economic needs, why is there so limited information available? How many of the audiance are wearing sports watches that provide at least an estimate of calorie exersion? Why not get your beneficiareis to wear some for a few days and see what the results are? It shouldn't be that hard or that expensive.

 

Asking people to wear behavioral trackers or to use smartphone/tablet apps to periodically record activities and food consumption throughout the day are hot topics right now. At the recent Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Academy Week there were a couple of sessions on new uses of technology for nutrition-sensitive agriculture: https://anh-academy.org/anh2019-resources

I think that privacy and ethical issues around intensive, cloud-based, collection of personal data need to be explored more thoroughly. Having collected many, painful, time diaries and 24 hour dietary recalls as part of research in my time, I can say it would solve many data collection, quality, and analysis issues if we could make technology work for us around time use, calorie expenditure, and food intake. 

I would like to respectively disagree. In the USA what you say may be true, but in the developing world I would think you could get a sufficeint number to participate to get reasonable reliable results even with the slight bias for having only volunteers. You might want to offer a $10 gratiduty once their participation is completed. How long would you want to ask them to wear one. A week maybe 2 weeks. I would think getting the refined data too important not to give it a try.

As we shift to the marketing production for purchase of better nutrition I wonder if this is not too early. If I recall from a BIFAD open meeting I attended on-line a couple years ago, the interest in market value chain was an effort to stimutalte additional crop production with a market draw, with limited impact on subsistance production. This assumes there is a surplus of operational resources such as labor as well as the caloric energy to fuel and a continuted oversight on evaluating operational limits. I hope my comments yesterday brought that into question and recognized the farmers are all ready maxed out and then some. Thus the question is what percent of thier total production are you expecting them to market up the supply chain? Will this be at the expense of subsistance production? Wouldn't a better approach be to address with operational limits so initial crop estalishment is expedited, crop yields improved, family food security obtained and there will be larger perecnt of production available to move up the value chain? 

Sorry no webpage reference!

Hi, Dick--I responded to your comment on operational constraints in the other thread. I'm pasting it here too:

Hi, Dick. On nutrition-sensitive agriculture projects I've worked with in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa, labor constraints are indeed a persistent challenge for smallholders. Contributing factors vary from land fragmentation to out migration or local wage labor demands, or the combination of child and elder care, housework, and livelihood tasks that often overwhelm women. 

It's good that the WEIA and simpler qualitative methodologies like gendered daily activity charts can help to map out labor and time demands (separate but related issues), to help programmers estimate the impact of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions on the populations engaged in the program. But I love your idea of working across disciplines to more accurately model the labor needed over time to adopt and maintain new agricultural or market-related practices.

The evidence review highlights the importance of national food-based dietary guidelines which "can also be used to promote healthy nutritional choices, serve as the basis for educational sessions in food retail centers or workplaces, and set standards for feeding programs such as school feeding."

How far have we come as an international community of practice in standardizing definitions of healthy and unhealth food to inform development or updating of national dietary guidelines? What are the challenges involved in agreeing on standard definitions among policymakers, private sector actors, and civil society organizations? What national or international institutions can play a role in overcoming those challenges?

On the issue of better assess to information I strongly believe it is what we need here in northern Nigeria when one is not informed he/she is deformed so if we have a proper channel of sharing information to farmers and consumers that can field the gap so a KAP survey can provide a head way.

As for definition of healthy food and unhealthy food healthy food are foods that are made of whole grains, fruit and vegetables as well as high dietary fibre while unhealthy food are food made up high concentration of saturated fats, polished sugar, salt and empty calories from junks 

Hi, Abdulkadir! Agreed on the importance of accurate, easy to understand information from trusted sources. What channels of communication and types of media/materials have you found to be most useful in reaching producers and consumers in northern Nigeria? In fragile and conflict affected contexts it can be especially challenging to get the right information to the right people at the right time to contribute to improved decisions and practices. We'd love your further thoughts on these challenges and how to overcome them!

I think the broad outlines you state for healthy versus unhealthy food go a long way, but for purposes of incentivizing or regulating food markets, it seems to get very complicated to agree on standard definitions. :) Food safety issues and things like "counterfeit food" complicate things further. 

Coming from a social-science and nutrition background, I have found the Leveraging Economic Opportunities project's Framework for Inclusive Market System Development useful for helping me to think about nutrition-sensitive food systems from a more market-led perspective. Has anyone else used this framework in your work or research? https://www.marketlinks.org/library/framework-inclusive-market-system-development

The framework defines outcomes like increased resilience, effectiveness, and inclusiveness for market-strengthening activities. What other short-, medium-, and long-term outcomes need to be refined or developed to measure change in agriculture and food systems for nutrition?

Thanks, everyone, for your participation in this thread so far! I'm taking away from your rich contributions a need to continue cross-discipline thinking and work, and to use systems thinking to guide our work--always remembering to adapt frameworks to local contexts, different types of market-system actors, and different population groups. There will be another moderated session in this thread later. And please do keep commenting on all the topics. Thank you!

women's participation in decision-making, and increased joint control of household resources and income, does positively influence production diversity and dietary diversity. When do you anticipate that your research will be completed? interesting!

Thanks again to all of you who participated in this conversation. Please join us for the next moderated discussion on this topic, agriculture-nutrition linkages at population scale, moderated by Sanele Nkomani, Supervising Dietitian, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition, Malawi. You are also welcome to comment anytime on any topic. As a reminder, the discussions will continue through next Monday, November 18th. For the full schedule of events, check out our e-consultation home.

A final thought for this morning. I keep noting comments about decisions on nutrition with an implied understanding that nutritional decisions are 100% discretionary. I doubt that and I think we need to  consider the extent they are highly compromised, and not only from my concern about caloric energy. The real concern from a research development concern is to recognized the need for compromises and what the rational compromises are.

Good morning/evening to you all and welcome to the second moderated session on agriculture-nutrition linkages at  population scale. I have noted the rich conversations that has already taken place on this and encourage continued comments on any of the above threads.

On the first thematic area of policies on trade and markets, I was stuck by comment made by Victor which to my understanding is basically asking to what extent global policies on trade etc are affecting the most rural markets in the first place? I believe his calling food sheds in rural communties where they trade with themselves and support their own diversified diets. Can anyone share an example of where that has worked before?

I can think of an example from remote and mountainous parts of rural Laos. Communities with poor road access relied heavily on bush foods. Markets were small, informal, and barter-based. Goods had to be walked in from the nearest track, or bought from traders with pack horses and so prices were high. As the road network improved, trade grew a lot. Bush foods were still important but more for income generation than for food. Road access often led to higher levels of income AND debt. Villagers could more readily receive cash for their commodities so they converted some of their farms for cash cropping - but the expanded range of products now available meant they had more to spend their income on (unfortunately, often cheap plastic toys or sweets / snack foods for children). Roads meant linkage to global trade and lower prices for easy-to-grow cash crops (like maize) - but also meant linkages to better varieties or inputs, or different buyers. Helping communities manage this market transition, while preserving a diversified diet, was key.

The question of nudging consumers towards healthier choices needs to have a large component of understanding the beliefs on the health and disease in the context. My experience working with various groups in Malawi and Zimbabwe is that traditional models on how to elicit behaviour change may not work as well Africa. I think the main reasons for this are underlying differences between the populations in question. Literacy and numeracy are much lower in developing countries.  Hence interventions need to be pitched at the appropriate level of understanding. Also, the beliefs on what causes ill health and diseases are different.  Africans are generally said to have an external locus of control on health and illness, meaning that we are generally much more inclined to believe that external reasons such as “bad luck and witch craft” have caused illness. Naturally this means that your own behaviour is a likely reason for illness.

Hence, I think a better understanding of the health beliefs of the population in question is key to understanding how to convey health promotion messages.

 

Hi All, food system and food and nutrition security of small-scale farmers, including women producers is affected by their access to water both for domestic and productive use. We need to pay greater attention for research/action research on the dynamics relationship between water and food system. 

 

Thank you for your comment. I think this is very valid point. I know that issues to do with water safety even for irrigation purposes were discussed in the production and processing of nutrient rich foods thread. But certainly water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource esp in sub-Saharan Africa and no doubt there is significant evidence to show the effects of lack of water on food production and nutrition security.

In country like Nepal, women, the poor, tenant and marginal farmers are the main producers of food. Nontheless, they have limited access to information and technologies related to efficient use of irrigation water, policy changes and markets. Looking at food systems from  gender and social equity perspectives are also equally important. 

Thank you for your comment.  There is a sesson on Friday that touches on gender issue. I am sure these issues will be discussed in more detail

The final question is what remains to be done to help guide the development of harmonized measurements for consumer outcomes (food-groups and dietary diversity indicators)? What measures should we be considering?

 

In terms of crop insuarance; yes it is possible for better access to information and services to subsidized crop insurance. Nevertheless, there is need of a conceptualized and reliable investigation into the potential of crop insurance in rural Africa in stimulating sustainable investment in the sector. There is increasing diversion of attention away from agriculture due to climate and return variability. Many people are completely disengaging from agricultural activities altogether thus leading to constraints towards food systems for nutrition(since small-scale farmers are shifting towards climate resilience food without regarding food nutrition value). If we can design a workable insurance product that covers the major risks, then we may facilitate increased and sustained efforts towards food production in the region. It requires a research and a technical team to design and test such a product in the market.

In terms of nutrition uptake; one method that can be used to improve nutrition uptake maybe through biofortification. Biofortification is a process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through conventional plant breeding techniques and addition of nutrient-rich fertilisers. An increasing body of evidence suggests that it may be a cost-effective and sustainable approach to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.

Tightly controlled human feeding studies (efficacy trials) have demonstrated that consumption of biofortified crops can lead to increased micronutrient status. However, a limited number of effectiveness studies have demonstrated similar improvements under ‘real world’ conditions. The most recent national nutrition survey in Pakistan indicated that over 40% of women were zinc deficient and 20% had iron deficiency anaemia. It was identified as a priority country for investment by HarvestPlus and a new variety of biofortified wheat (Zincol-2016) was released in 2016. It contains significantly higher concentrations of zinc and iron, compared to standard varieties which have been released in South Asia.

Thank you for some very insightful comments Bronson.Just to add on the biofortification topic you brought up. There is a fairly large bio-fortification trial that is currently running in Malawi and Ethiopia called GeoNutrition. The basic background of the study is very high levels of micronutrient deficiencies, particularly zinc and selenium that were found in both countries. They then looked at soil mirconutrient quality, which revaeled very large variations within a country in soil quality.

Now they are conducting a 'real world' trials of giving out biofortified seeds to villagers from those region with poor soil content of micronutrients with addition of nutrient rich fertilizers. The results are not yet out but I think it is designed to be as pragmatic as possible. I am sure the results will be informative.

Thank you

It looks like the evening session didn' t really come active until after the official close and emeritus folks like me retired for the evening. As I reviewed the late discussion I would like to add a couple comments.

The mention was made of transportation particularly to remote areas. When in Zambia a fomer transporter advised me that when she had to operated off the tarmac she tripled the basic ton/km (I think that is the standard way of quoting transport charges). I thought about that and think the extra charges can easily and transparently determined. Thus I offer a webpage for consideration. The link:  

https://webdoc.agsci.colostate.edu/smallholderagriculture/Off-TarmacTransportCosts.pdf 

More relevant to this discussion it shouldn't take much economic analysis to determing how far down a feeder road it is economically possible to promote high value crops for moving up the value chain to purchase more nutritious foods. Remember the only persons who can pay for remoteness are the farmers in terms of high input prices and lower commodity prices.

I do recall on the same trip to Zambia internviewing some farmers who had been asked to produce tomatoes. They now had the tomatoes are ready for market but the bycycle transport system was charging 80% of the value of the tomatoes to transport the 5 creates he could put on this bycyle. A real note of caution!

The second comment involves high value crops. Please note high value does not mean high profit. There is normally a reason for the high value and it often is the result of high quality standards particularly if intended for export. High quality is often associated with high management which quickly is equated to high labor requirements, which as I have harped on for the past could days may not be available and the quality will be compromises and sale value deminished.

Cheeth paparika programs in Malawi and Zambia are the best example I know of getting smallholder involved in high value crops. But Paparicka is only a semi perishable crop and yes a condoment not a high nutrition crop. My spelling is way off this morning.

I do have a couple webpages to offer:

https://smallholderagriculture.agsci.colostate.edu/highvalued/ 

https://smallholderagriculture.agsci.colostate.edu/cheetah-paprika-out-grower-program-zambia/ 

 

 

 

Processed foods are taking over markets in cities like Monrovia and Lagos, with farm-fresh products increasingly being outmarketed by covienent, ultra-processed packaged foods. I feel there is a huge gap in our sector of people willing to have serious conversations about what the role of the private sector currently is, and what can be done to improve it. The latest UNICEF research summarizes this new reality well: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/10/17/770905500/childhood-obesity-is-rising-shockingly-fast-even-in-poor-countries?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20191018&utm_campaign=news&utm_id=41567098&orgid=