Food insecurity and malnutrition remain serious challenges for many, particularly female headed, households in Africa. Nutrition sensitive agriculture and diverse diets have been identified as strategies for improving nutrition. Little is known about the interlinkages between consumption and production strategies.
The understanding of crop diversity and nutrition requires a food system approach that acknowledges these dependencies and the role of the entire value chain.
Smallholder farmers in the EaTSANE study area have witnessed yield reductions due to general decreasing soil fertility and accelerated by inadequate farming practices. In addition, access to nutrient-dense crops is constrained by weak value chain coordination. Therefore, low-income consumers have limited availability and affordability, access to nutritious foods. Less than 45% of women and men eat food from more than five food groups, which is considered as minimum for an adequate diet.
Results of the previous project HealthyLAND demonstrate the importance of crop diversification for nutrition security and soil health. However, constraints for diversification exist:
Unawareness of positive environmental and nutritional outcomes of crop diversification
Fragmentation of actors in the food system, preventing value chain coordination
Socio-cultural factors affecting household food environment
These constraints result in low dietary diversity and low energy intake, affecting farmers’ capability to improve production of nutrient-dense food.
EaTSANE aims to implement sustainable farming practices and improve diets of households in Kenya and Uganda by diversifying the food system with a participatory action learning approach.The project’s specific objectives are
identifying and promoting improved farming practices for healthier soils and production of more diverse, nutritious crops;
improving access of value chain actors to inputs and services, their links and reducing food losses through improved handling and processing practices; and
enhancing consumers’ food culture, resulting in healthier diets and more equitable distribution of food in households.
These objectives and activities of EaTSANE are geared towards the main research question “What food system innovations in farming practices, value chains and nutrition behavior lead to improved diets and more sustainable farming in Uganda and Kenya?”