Research project on agriculture-nutrition linkages, specifically aimed at smallholder value chains goes to Sierra Leone
Research consisted of three phases:
- A desk review of existing global knowledge on the linkages between smallholder value chain and nutrition programming;
- A mapping exercise that focused on a broad ‘mapping’ of the potential key institutions/actors and their linkages in the smallholder value chain in different agro-ecological and socio-economic settings in Sierra Leone;
- A detailed intervention analysis on value-chain factors and opportunities in a few specific, high potential cases identified from the mapping exercise.
Field work was carried out by two MSc students from the Wageningen UR Division of Human Nutrition. During their two-month internship in Sierra Leone they collected data on smallholder value chains in rice and in vegetables, focusing on female smallholder farmers. The mapping exercise indicated these two commodities as most promising for promoting nutritional outcomes.
The results of the field work showed that the ‘pathways of change’, potential pathways for influencing improved food and nutrition security in the farmers’ households, are not always straightforward and sometimes even the opposite of what we might expect. Growing vegetables did not seem to have any influence on the consumption of vegetables by farmers’ household members, nor by local consumers. All produce was sold to Freetown, mostly to expat communities.
It could not be determined whether the increased income led to increased food security. This is because the increased production of rice by the smallholder groups did not lead to improved food security as perceived by the farmers. Also the farmers are net food buyers and because of the increased food prices their feeling was that the food security situation of their household was similar of even worse than before.