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Improving Nutrition Outcomes Through Optimized Agricultural Investments (ATONU)

Pathways to strengthen the nutritional value of agriculture

The ATONU approach details the research questions that will be addressed through the various work packages, explains the impact pathways and possible tailored nutrition interventions, describes the theory of change, outlines the work packages, describes the ATONU institutional arrangements, describes the inception and feasibility phase, and paints a picture of what the success of the project would look like.

Nutrition Interventions and Agriculture Impact Pathways

ATONU is implementing tailored nutrition interventions to complement agricultural investments and help enhance nutrition outcomes. Examples of the interventions that ATONU is exploring include: (i) Nutrition knowledge and behavior change; (ii) Fortification; (iii) Biofortification; (iv) Labor saving technologies; (v) Improvements in animal husbandry, fisheries and dairy; (vi) Crop management (e.g., Intercropping and rotation); (vii) Aflatoxin control; (viii) Storage and handling; (ix) Market development or enhanced marketing skills; (x) Food processing and cooking; (xi) Policy environment; (xii) Women empowerment. The following commodities will be prioritized for the tailored nutrition interventions: (i) Cereals: Maize, millet, sorghum and rice; (ii) Roots and tubers: cassava, yams, and sweet potatoes; (iii) Legumes: groundnuts, cow peas and beans; and (iv) Livestock: cows, dairy, goats and chickens (for meat and eggs). In addition, ATONU is looking into opportunities provided by other smallholder priority commodities, such as fish, fruits and vegetables.

The food supply chain linking food production with food consumption and human nutrition is usefully considered in terms of five pathways:

Pathway 1: Food production for the household's own consumption

is the most fundamental and direct pathway by which increased production is being translated into greater food availability and food security.
  • Food production affects the food availability for household consumption as well as the prices for diverse foods
  • The different types of foods produced determine the impact of the production increase on diet quality
  • However, it is not always possible for a household to produce all the food they need

Pathway 2: Income-oriented production for Food and Health

this pathway is assuming that nutrient-dense, diverse foods are available and affordable in local markets.
  • As agricultural households become more market oriented, production-for-own-consumption becomes less significant relative to income from the sale of what is produced
  • The extra income is then used to buy more food of higher-quality and nutrient-dense
  • The balance between quantity and quality affects the final impact of this additional income on the household's consumption of energy and micronutrients

Pathway 3: The empowerment of women

- is a pathway that is carrying special significance for household nutrition outcomes and in particular for children's health and nutrition outcomes.
  • Women's empowerment incorporates multiple aspects including the decision-making power related to income, time, labor, assets, and knowledge or preferences of female community members
  • Women have consistently been found to be more likely than men to invest in their children's health and well-being, and the income and resources that women control wield disproportionately strong effects on health and nutrition outcomes generally
  • Women who are reached by agricultural programs that relay information on nutrition issues appear to be particularly effective at delivering improved nutrition outcomes, and the effects appear to be most pronounced among the lowest income groups

Pathway 4: Lowering food retail prices

- by increasing food production is another pathway linking agriculture to nutrition and is especially important in areas in which markets are less integrated.
  • This is a policy level pathway. For net consumers, reduced food prices enable greater access to food and essential nutrients, resulting in better health and productivity for the general workforce while also freeing additional household resources from food to other expenditures, including productive investments

Pathway 5: Nutrition Sensitive Agricultural Growth

- the indirect relationship between increasing agricultural productivity and nutrition outcomes through the agriculture sector's contribution to national income and macroeconomic growth.

Impact pathways from agriculture to nutrition outcomes:

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Women's time, women empowerment and production:

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The “sun rise” approach to women empowerment is important as ATONU’s focus is on smallholder farm families and the pivotal role women play in agriculture and household nutrition. Levels women’s time, women empowerment and production affect how agriculture can have positive results on nutrition outcomes.


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