Infusing Agricultural Extension with Nutrition and Gender-sensitive Messages
Dr. Lulu Rodriguez and Lea Peck of the University of Illinois’ Agricultural Communications Program were asked to join an interdisciplinary team of students, faculty members and staff of two other universities that visited Bangladesh on behalf of the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Services (INGENAES) project. INGENAES’ mandate is to assist USAID’s Feed the Future missions to strengthen gender and nutrition integration within agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS). Its stated objectives are (1) to build robust nutrition-oriented institutions, projects and programs capable of assessing and responding to the nutrition needs of farmers and farm families; (2) identify, test the efficacy, and strengthen proven mechanisms for delivering improved EAS to women farmers; (3) disseminate gender-appropriate and nutrition-enhancing technologies and access to inputs to improve women’s agricultural productivity and enhance household nutrition; and (4) apply effective extension approaches and tools to enhance the nutritional status especially of those who reside in rural areas. For the purposes of this report, we define nutrition-sensitive agriculture as involving the design and implementation of nutrition-based approaches to sustainable farming and cropping systems. In short, it is agriculture with a nutrition lens. Extension and advisory services (EAS) are often thought of as a mechanism for the improved nutritional health of rural communities because they reach and interact closely with farmers and farm families in a variety of settings. EAS have conventionally been known to function as conduits of crop, livestock, and forestry information. However, the extent to which it can perform the function of delivering nutrition advice and services have been less clear and less evaluated. The goals for the two communications representatives were as follows:
1. To examine procedures and products of organizations, agencies and entities that have been identified as having the capacity to generate, produce and disseminate communication materials and nutrition messages.
2. To assess available communication materials in terms of format and the quality of message presentation.
3. To assist in the “harmonization” of messages given a variety of information sources.
4. To understand how the variety of actors and agencies involved can be linked for the efficient exchange and sharing of information and communication materials.
The report begins with observation on the communication dimension of integrating nutrition. Next, recommendations for the integration of nutrition messages into extension are provided and recommendations for research are outlined. These recommendations are based on the information gathered while in country. A description of the day-to-day activities and observations follows. Towards the end, participants’ inputs in the message harmonization workshop are summarized.