Assessing food value chain pathways, linkages and impacts for better nutrition of vulnerable groups
In addition to targeting health and other areas related to undernutrition, a key priority is also the transformation of the agriculture and food sector. While patterns of crop and livestock production are widely expected to affect nutrition and the health of vulnerable groups, the evidence base for a positive impact, albeit growing, is still limited and sometimes inconclusive.
This article offers insights into assessing the effectiveness of post farm-gate agri-food value chains at improving the nutrition intake of vulnerable groups. It develops a conceptual framework integrating the value chain concepts with agriculture and nutrition, and identifies key outcomes and requirements for value chains to be successful at delivering substantive and sustained consumption of nutrient-dense foods by poor households. Other frameworks linking value chains with nutrition have been published, but this article provides the analytical lens to assess post-farm-gate value chains.
To achieve improvements in the intake of nutritious foods by the target populations food must be: safe to eat on a sustained basis; nutrient dense at the point of consumption; and consumed in adequate amounts on a sustained basis. This shifts the focus to the role of public actions and policy in terms of shaping the functioning of food value chains.
By assessing the limits of what business can and cannot contribute in a given market context, policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders will be more capable of creating an appropriate institutional environment that shapes how value chains operate for the benefit of vulnerable target groups, designing and implementing effective policies and strategies with respect to the role and use of market-based interventions.