Agriculture Production and Markets

Agriculture Production of Nutrient-Rich Foods

 

Because livestock, whole fish, and, pulses are good sources of iron, increasing the production and availability of these foods is a strategy for decreasing anemia. Most cultures desire animal products in their diets and as income increases, the proportion of the food budget spent on meat increases. Lower cost sources of iron need to be available for poorer families. In many countries legumes provide a good source of iron for the poor. While the availability per capita of meat has increased worldwide by 72% from 1963 to 2009 (with an almost 400% increase in Asia and a 100% increase in Latin America (Figure 1), over the same period the availability of pulses has decreased by 30% worldwide with much of the decline in the Asia region (a 48% decline) (Figure 2).

 

There is some evidence from studies and small programs that agriculture including livestock projects can improve food intake of certain micronutrients and nutrition status (Allen, 2003; Murphy, et al.,2003) although a more recent analysis of 23 agriculture and nutrition studies found no effect of the interventions on the absorption of iron but there was some evidence for an improvement in vitamin A absorption (Masset, et al., 2012).

Livestock value chains could be used to improve the iron status in the people and their families who participate in them, if some of the livestock is consumed at home or the income earned is used to buy iron-rich foods. The people involved in agriculture value chains are not always the most vulnerable families, however. It has not yet been well-documented of the effect of agriculture value chains on food intake or nutritional status. Authors of a review of the subject suggest that in order to obtain nutrition outcomes from agricultural value change, there will need to be specific nutrition goals and a clearly defined nutrition problem, among other considerations. Click here and here to view the publications.

Creating Healthy Markets and Controlling Food Prices

 

In order to decrease anemia through increased food production including livestock, legumes, and even good sources of vitamin C which improves the absorption of non-heme iron, there need to be supportive policies and actions that will ensure these foods are produced by those who need them or are available to purchase in markets. The availability of micronutrient-rich foods is often seasonal and a steady, year-round supply may not be possible. Government intervention may be needed to increase the production of fruits and vegetables for consumption by lower income groups. Subsidies are often relegated to staple crops. Agriculture subsidies could be used to increase the availability of a number of nutritious foods which have potential for improving the nutritional status of the population. Social safety nets and control food prices during financial insecurity could buffer a crisis. An analysis from one country found a 50% increase in food prices in one country decreased iron intake by 10% to 30% which was estimated to translate to a 25 percentage point increase in the proportion of women not meeting their iron requirements (Bouis, et al., 2011).

 

Resources