Review of Agri-Food Value Chain Interventions Aimed at Enhancing Consumption of Nutritious Food by the Poor: India

Review of Agri-Food Value Chain Interventions Aimed at Enhancing Consumption of Nutritious Food by the Poor: India

Efforts to give a pro-nutrition focus to agriculture to address the problem of undernutrition in developing countries have predominantly focused on boosting production and/or consumption of nutritious foods by farm households. While this is clearly appropriate in countries where a large proportion of the poor have agriculture as their main source of livelihood, as in South Asia, it is increasingly recognised that a majority of the poor derive some or all of their food through markets. These might include individuals in producer households that are not self-sufficient in food for some or all of the year, rural non-farm and landless households and urban households. This requires that attention is given to the functioning of the agri-food value chains through which food is produced, processed, stored and distributed, and how this can be improved. In particular, when the task at hand is to improve the nutrition status of poor and vulnerable sections of the population, consumption of nutritious food and diets by them becomes the focus of attention.

A strand of work under the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme consortium addresses the question: What public and private actions are needed to strengthen the impacts of agri-food value chains on nutrition in the region? This report is on the India country review of agri-food value chains. India was ranked 55th among 76 countries in 2014 on the Global Hunger Index. Undernutrition is a pervasive problem in the country.

This review examined 40 agri-food value chain interventions under three categories: naturally nutrient-dense food, foods of increased nutritional value and food distribution. All these interventions aimed to, or have potential to, increase the consumption of nutrient-dense foods or increase their supply to post-farm gate poor populations in general and specifically to women and children. This review has provided a descriptive overview of the actors and activities involved in these interventions. It makes an evaluation of the extent to which such interventions address nutrition issues in a value chain mode.

It is hoped that this desk review and analysis will serve as a guide to an understanding of the agri-food value chain landscape in India. Drawing from the review, three agri-food value chains are being taken up for detailed case study to examine their potential to deliver nutrient-dense foods to low income populations. These are:

  • Amulspray as an example of a business driven agri-food value chain of a fortified naturally nutrient-dense food targeted at infants
  • Iron-fortified Tiger brand biscuits of Britannia Industries Limited as an example of a food of enhanced nutrient value reaching low-income households
  • The Supplementary Nutrition Programme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme as an example of an agri-food based food distribution value chain targeted at women and children



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