Agriculture and food security

We want to find out how agricultural and food security programmes can reduce undernutrition

Specifically we want to find out: under what conditions is agricultural growth most likely to lead to reductions in undernutrition? And how can interventions that increase agricultural productivity and agricultural incomes be designed to improve their impact on undernutrition?

We’re examining the links between agriculture and food security interventions and nutrition in several ways and are applying quantitative econometric techniques to cross-country data. Doing this, we can assess the conditions under which agricultural growth is most likely to lead to rapid reductions in undernutrition. These conditions will include measures of governance and fragility, our cross cutting themes.

A: Assess impact of Agricultural Growth Programme, related interventions and nutrition interventions in Ethiopia: Transform Nutrition has contributed to a large (7000+) baseline household survey in localities in Ethiopia. This survey has played a part in the newly implemented Agricultural Growth Programme (AGP). Overlaying these data with direct nutrition interventions, and with components of the AGP that focus on women, and re-surveying these households applying non-experimental impact estimators, will allow us to assess the synergistic impacts on undernutrition.

January 2015 update. - Data collection for the Agricultural Growth Programme and Feed the Future is ongoing. Interim analysis on dairy cattle ownership shows a strong relationship between increases in milk consumption and reduced child stunting. The association relates to market incompleteness rather than income (some people don’t have access to food markets, but if they own a cow, they have milk). This has been published as an IFPRI Discussion Paper and accepted for publication in the Journal of Development Studies.

B: Assess synergistic effects of agriculture and nutrition-specific interventions in Bangladesh:  Learning from our experience in Ethiopia, we have developed a proposal to assess the synergistic effects of agriculture and direct nutrition interventions in Bangladesh. Baseline surveys have been completed on the DFID-funded evaluation of the joint impact of livelihoods programmes and nutrition-specific interventions in Bangladesh being led by Nick Nisbett (IDS) and John Hoddinott (IFPRI). Transform Nutrition analysis will follow in 2015.

C: Assess the role of agriculture in reducing undernutrition in Bangladesh: Combining secondary data from several sources, we explore how improvements in agricultural productivity (specifically, increases in rice yields) affect measures of undernutrition in mothers and children in Bangladesh. Preliminary estimates suggest a clear association between increased rice yields and improvements in severe stunting and very low maternal BMI. A paper is currently being drafted.