Current and Planned Research on Agriculture for Improved Nutrition: A Mapping and a Gap Analysis

Rachel Lambert & Alan Dangour

Current Evidence
• Potential for agricultural change to improve nutrition outcomes directly and in-directly • Systematic Reviews [Masset et al, 2011, Girard et al, 2012]
– Little evidence of impact – More and better designed research needed

• Need to map ongoing research to inform future research and funding decisions

DFID commission
• Map current ag/nutr research; identify gaps • Objectives
– Develop coherent framework – Improve quality of research – Identify priority themes

• • • • • • Stage 1 – Conceptual Framework Stage 2 – Inclusion & Exclusion criteria Stage 3 – Identify relevant projects Stage 4 – Populate data template Stage 5 – Classify projects Stage 6 – Gap analysis

Conceptual Framework
Policy & Governance

Political & Economic Context, e.g. fragile/ stable state, humanitarian situation

Agricultural interventions/ practices

Impacts/ outcomes related to nutrition

Indirect impacts/ intervening factors

Agricultural inputs


Health/ education status & wellbeing

Climate & Environment

Agricultural practices Food consumption

Health care & education

Food value chain Food environment

Economic outcome

Culture, Gender & Equity

Inclusion & exclusion criteria
Inclusion criteria
Focused on developing countries Objective to improve nutritional outcomes Includes an agricultural component Includes assessment of the relationship between agriculture & a measure of food consumption and/or nutritional status Research/evaluation component

Exclusion criteria
Foods with no agricultural component Zoonotic or other agriculture-associated diseases (n.b. aflatoxins included) Basic science research at the interface of agriculture, nutrition and health such as plant and animal breeding

Identifying relevant projects
• • • • • • • Advisory panel - CGIAR, A4NH, USAID, BMGF Members of EIARD & other donors Ag/Nutrition Community of Practice Maternal health research community University networks Database search “snowballing”

Projects identified
• 135 institutions identified – 131 contacted • 151 current/planned relevant studies

Research funders/organisations
• 46 different funders
– BMGF (n=43), CIDA (n=33), USAID (n=33), IDRC (n=30) and DFID (n=22)

• CGIAR centres; universities & NGOs common leads
– Developed country leads – Few private sector partners

Research location

Target groups
• • • • • Children (especially first 1000 days) Women (especially of reproductive age) Rural households “Very poor” households Less coverage
– Men – Urban households

Research types
• ~60% active intervention into agriculture
– Evaluations of agricultural development projects – Research focused on specific agricultural interventions

• Creation and analysis of large datasets on agricultural and nutritional change

Research focus
• Most often directed at improving the production of nutritious foods
– Biofortification & other crop improvements – Indigenous/traditional/local foods – Agrobiodiversity

• Other common areas
– Focus on value chains and nutritious foods – Focus on agricultural growth & development

Gap Analysis Approach
• Structured on conceptual framework • Gaps
– Impact pathways/research chains
• Entire pathways • Nutritional effects

– Macro-factors – Target groups

Gap analysis
• • • • • • • • Whole research chain i.e. from ag to nutrition Indirect effects on nutrition Effects of ag policy on nutrition Political economy of agriculture-for-nutrition policies Development methodologies and metrics Population “sub”-groups (urban/male) Nutrition-related non-communicable diseases Cost-effectiveness of interventions

How is DFID taking this forward?
• Large scale experimental trials to generate the evidence to support large scaling up interventions • Links between food and agricultural policy and nutrition outcomes, including diet related NCDs • Innovative tools and metrics, research collaboration and networking

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