Food Security

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 1053–1068 | Cite as

The process of developing a nutrition-sensitive agriculture intervention: a multi-site experience

  • Peter R. Berti
  • Rachelle E. Desrochers
  • Hoi Pham Van
  • An Lê Văn
  • Tung Duc Ngo
  • Ky Hoang The
  • Nga Le Thi
  • Prasit WangpakapattanawongEmail author
Original Paper


Nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) interventions are of increasing interest to those working in global health and nutrition. However NSA is a broad concept, and there are numerous candidate NSA interventions that could be implemented in any given setting. While most agriculture interventions can be made “nutrition-sensitive”, there are few guidelines for helping to decide what agriculture component should be tried in an NSA intervention. Based on previous models, we developed a framework with explicit questions about community factors (agricultural production, diets, power and gender), project factors (team capacity, budget, timelines) and external factors that helped our team of agriculture scientists, nutritionists and local officials identify NSA interventions that may be feasibly implemented with a reasonable chance of having positive agricultural and nutritional impacts. We applied this framework to two settings in upland Vietnam, and one setting in upland Thailand. From an initial list of nineteen interventions that have been tried elsewhere, or may reasonably be expected to be appropriate for NSA, five or six candidate interventions were chosen per site. Based on the criteria, three to four interventions were selected per site and are being implemented. Poultry rearing and home gardening were selected in each site. They and the other selected interventions, hold promise for capitalizing on underused agricultural potential to improve diets, while working with (or improving) existing gender relationships and power structures. The process for identifying NSA interventions was thorough and identified reasonable candidates, but it was very time consuming. Further efforts should focus on streamlining the process, so that promising and appropriate NSA interventions can be identified quickly and reliably.


Nutrition-sensitive agriculture Vietnam Thailand Food security 



The research was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. We acknowledge the contributions of: Lisa Macdonald (HealthBridge) in managing the project: the Thai team, including Palika Champrasert, Surachet Jina Keaw, Tanawit Wongsur, Natjan Chairat, and Anantika Ratnamhin of ICRAF Thailand Office, and Sakda Pruenglampoo, and Posri Leelapat of Research Institute for Health Sciences, Chiang Mai University; the collaboration of researchers of the Center for Agriculture, Forestry Research and Development of Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry.

The paper benefitted greatly from reviews from the Senior Editor and two anonymous reviews.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest statement

All authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2016_625_MOESM1_ESM.docx (82 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 82 kb)


  1. Arimond, M., Hawkes, C., Ruel, M., Sifri, Z., Berti, P., LeRoy, J., et al. (2011). Agricultural interventions and nutrition: lessons from the past and new evidence. In B. Thompson & L. Amoroso (Eds.), Combating micronutrient deficiencies: food-based approaches (pp. 41–75). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization/CABI International.Google Scholar
  2. Berti, P. R., Krasevec, J., & FitzGerald, S. (2004). A review of the effectiveness of agriculture interventions in improving nutrition outcomes. Public Health Nutrition, 7(5), 599–609. doi: 10.1079/PHN2003595 S1368980004000722.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Dung, N. V., Vien, T. D., Lam, N. T., Tuong, T. M., & Cadisch, G. (2008). Analysis of the sustainability within the composite swidden agroecosystem in northern Vietnam. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 128, 37–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dury, S., Alpha, A., & Bichard, A. (2015). The negative side of the agricultural–nutrition impact pathways: a literature review. World Food Policy, 2(1), 78–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. FAO (2004). Food insecurity and vulnerability in Viet Nam: profiles of four vulnerable groups. Agriculture Development Economics Division (ESA).Google Scholar
  6. FAO (2015). Designing nutrition-sensitive agriculture investments. Checklist and guidance for programme formulation. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  7. General Statistical Office of Vietnam (2011). Viet Nam multiple indicator cluster survey 2011, final report. Viet Nam: Ha Noi.Google Scholar
  8. Government of Vietnam Socialist Republic (2005). Vietnam achieving the Millenium development goals. Socialist Republic of Vietnam.Google Scholar
  9. Green, D. (2012). From poverty to power: how active citizens and effective states can change the world. U.K.: Practical Action Publishing and Oxfam International.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Headey, D., Chiu, A., & Kadiyala, S. (2011). Agriculture’s role in the Indian Enigma: Help or hindrance to the undernutrition crisis? IFPRI discussion paper 01085. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).Google Scholar
  11. Herforth, A., & Harris, J. (2014). Understanding and applying primary pathways and principles. Brief #1. Improving nutrition through agriculture technical brief Series. . Arlington, VA: USAID/Strengthening partnerships, results, and innovations in nutrition globally (SPRING) Project.Google Scholar
  12. Hoddinott, J., Headey, D., & Dereje, M. (2015). Cows, missing milk markets, and nutrition in rural Ethiopia. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 958–975. doi: 10.1080/00220388.2015.1018903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Humphries, D. L., Dearden, K. A., Crookston, B. T., Fernald, L. C., Stein, A. D., Woldehanna, T., et al. (2015). Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between household food security and child anthropometry at ages 5 and 8 Years in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. Journal of Nutrition, 145(8), 1924–1933. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.210229.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Iannotti, L., Muehlhoff, E., & Mcmahon, D. (2013). Review of milk and dairy programmes affecting nutrition. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 5(1), 82–115. doi: 10.1080/19439342.2012.758165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iannotti, L. L., Lutter, C. K., Bunn, D. A., & Stewart, C. P. (2014). Eggs: the uncracked potential for improving maternal and young child nutrition among the world’s poor. Nutrition Reviews, 72(6), 355–368. doi: 10.1111/nure.12107.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Isvilanonda, S., & Bunyasiri, I. (2009). Food security in Thailand. Status, rural poor vulnerability, and some policy options. Department of agricultural and resource economics, Kasetsart University, Bangkok.Google Scholar
  17. Kadiyala, S., Harris, J., Headey, D., Yosef, S., & Gillespie, S. (2014). Agriculture and nutrition in India: mapping evidence to pathways. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1331, 43–56. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12477.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Limnirankul, B., Promburom, P., & Thongngam, K. (2015). Community participation in developing and assessing household food security in the highlands of northern Thailand. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia, 5, 52–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mackintosh, U. A., Marsh, D. R., & Schroeder, D. G. (2002). Sustained positive deviant child care practices and their effects on child growth in Viet Nam. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 23(4 Suppl), 18–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Murphy, S. P., & Allen, L. H. (2003). Nutritional importance of animal source foods. Journal of Nutrition, 133(11 Suppl 2), 3932S–3935S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. National Statistical Office of Thailand (2013). Multiple indicator cluster survey: MICS4, Final Report. Bangkok.Google Scholar
  22. Rambo, A. T., & Cuc, L. T. (1996). Development trends in Vietnam’s Northern Mountain region. Hanoi: Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, Vietam National University.Google Scholar
  23. Sikor, T., & Nguyen, Q. T. (Eds.). (2011). Realizing Forest rights in Vietnam: addressing issues in community Forest management. Bangkok: Center for People and Forest (RECOFTC).Google Scholar
  24. Thomas, D. E., Preechapanya, P., & Saipothong, P. (2004). Landscape agroforestry in northern Thailand: impacts of changing land use in an upper tributary watershed of montane mainland southeast asia. Chiang Mai, Thailand. ASB.Google Scholar
  25. Tuan, V. D., Hilger, T., MacDonald, L., Clemens, G., Shiraishi, E., Vien, T. D., et al. (2014). Mitigation potential of soil conservation in maize cropping on steep slopes. Field Crops Research, 156, 91–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Turner, R., Hawkes, C., Jeff, W., Ferguson, E., Haseen, F., Homans, H., et al. (2013). Agriculture for improved nutrition: the current research landscape. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 34(4), 369–377.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Wangpakapattanawonga, P., Kavinchan, N., Vaidhayakarn, C., Schmidt-Vogt, D., & Elliott, S. (2010). Fallow to forest: applying indigenous and scientific knowledge of swidden cultivation to tropical forest restoration. Forest Ecology and Management, 260, 1399–1406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Webb, P., & Kennedy, E. (2014). Impacts of agriculture on nutrition: nature of the evidence and research gaps. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 35(1), 126–132.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter R. Berti
    • 1
  • Rachelle E. Desrochers
    • 1
  • Hoi Pham Van
    • 2
  • An Lê Văn
    • 3
  • Tung Duc Ngo
    • 3
  • Ky Hoang The
    • 4
  • Nga Le Thi
    • 4
  • Prasit Wangpakapattanawong
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.HealthBridgeOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Center for Agricultural Research and Ecological StudiesVietnam National University of AgricultureHanoiVietnam
  3. 3.Hue University of Agriculture and ForestryHueVietnam
  4. 4.HealthBridgeHanoiVietnam
  5. 5.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceChiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand
  6. 6.World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) c/o Knowledge Support Center for the Greater Mekong Sub-region (KSC-GMS), Faculty of Social SciencesChiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand

Personalised recommendations