Agricultural Interventions and Nutrition: Lessons from the Past and New Evidence

Agricultural Interventions and Nutrition: Lessons from the Past and New Evidence

The authors state that globally, many poor households rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, even when livelihoods are diversified, arguing further that poor households are also most vulnerable to undernutrition, including lack of micronutrients. Noting that agricultural approaches have the potential to substantially impact nutritional outcomes in a sustainable way, they point to insufficient understanding of the evidence base. This leads to lack of understanding about how best to achieve this potential. The chapter consolidates evidence linking agricultural interventions to nutrition outcomes.

It describes five pathways through which agricultural interventions can impact nutrition: consumption of own production; increases in income; reductions in market prices; shifts in consumer preferences; and shifts in control of resources. The chapter also reviews four types of studies providing insights into links between agriculture and nutrition: early studies of agricultural commercialization; studies of women in agriculture; studies of horticultural interventions; and studies of livestock and aquaculture interventions. The authors note that consistent themes include the importance of integrating well-designed behaviour-change communications and careful consideration of gender dimensions. Two case studies are offered to illustrate how well-designed interventions can affect nutritional status and operate at scale. The review offers suggestions for design of future interventions and for evaluation design while also identifying critical areas for future work, including investigations of cost-effectiveness, scaling up processes and sustainability.

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