Increased Production of Nutrient-Rich Foods

Supporting the production of foods rich in iron and other micronutrients to prevent micronutrient deficiencies is an indirect intervention that can lead to improvements in anemia (Flores-Martinez et al. 2016; Olney et al. 2015; Dewey 2007; Christian et al. 2015). Farmers can be supported to grow nutrient-rich food crops via agriculture extension services and farmer field schools. Home garden and animal husbandry projects can increase the production of vegetables and animal-source foods.

Measurement and data sources

Production of micronutrient-rich foods is typically measured by the crops and animal-sourced foods produced (and/or imported, exported) at the country level, in metric tons. These data can be used to estimate the average per capita availability of a given food item.

See the Food and Agriculture Organization’s FAOSTAT database for information on the production of micronutrient-rich foods. This type of data is then fed into analyses like the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA). The CFSVA describes a current food security situation and includes data on factors—such as months of adequate food provisioning—that will ultimately impact families' ability to obtain nutrient-rich diets (WFP 2016)..

Field projects may use emerging tools, such as Optifoods (FANTA 2016) and Cost-of-the-Diet (Save the Children UK 2009), both of which rely on local data similar to the data in FAOSTAT; or they may collect data on farmers’ gross margin per hectare, animal, or cage. It is becoming more common to collect data on the number of farmers cultivating, or the number of hectares of nutrient-rich commodities being cultivated. It may be worth looking for year-end reports from individual projects in your country.

Methodological issues

  • National-level data on production and trade will not provide specificity on the variety of crops (e.g., a given breed of bean) and estimates on per capita availability provide only crude estimates of food intake. This is because availability does not reflect accessibility—low income groups access the available food differently than higher income groups—or intra-household distribution of food.