This evidence paper provides a critical review of the strength and quality of the evidence base linking agriculture-based interventions and nutrition outcomes. In total, 38 studies published over the period 1980-2013 are included: 15 on home gardens, five on aquaculture, six on livestock, eight on cash crops and eight on biofortified crops (some studies address more than one intervention). The evidence base is derived roughly equally from Africa and Asia with one study from Latin America.
The primary nutrition outcomes of interest are biochemical measures of micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) status and measures of physical growth in childhood. The review also reports on multiple secondary outcomes including dietary consumption, income and morbidity.
In general, the agricultural interventions reviewed in this evidence paper have inconsistent or mixed effects on nutritional outcomes in women and children, although there is evidence for a positive impact of biofortified crops on micronutrient status in children. The review recognises that the evidence base on which these conclusions are drawn is limited in both size and quality. Significant research efforts are currently underway that may provide robust evidence further to inform these conclusions.
DFID. Can agriculture interventions promote nutrition? Agriculture and nutrition evidence paper. DFID, London, UK (2014) 70 pp.