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Agriculture and Nutrition: Unpacking the Pathways to Reducing Malnutrition

AAEA member published research in AJAE

Integrating agriculture-nutrition programs can increase the quantity and quality of nutritious foods through multiple pathways. Increased household production increases availability of home grown foods for consumption, and income for food purchases. Increased nutrition knowledge, through nutrition education, can change food preferences, and shift purchasing decisions towards nutritious foods.

AAEA member, Andrew Dillon from Northwestern University along with Joanne Arsenault, and Deanna Olney, wrote the article ”Nutrient Production and Micronutrient Gaps: Evidence from an Agriculture-Nutrition Randomized Control Trial,” published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE).

Dillon says, “We estimate production and consumption nutrient gaps by comparing consumption or production of nutrients relative to recommended dietary allowance for households. We find that the integrated agriculture-nutrition program reduced consumption nutrient gaps in treatment households, but wanted to explain why in our research. What we found was that even though the program increased production diversity, the increase in nutrients produced is not statistically significant. This suggests that the intensity of agricultural interventions needs to increase total production for household. Production diversity alone is not sufficient.”

Dillon continues, “Consumption expenditures did increase purchases of nutritious foods, suggesting that the behavior change communication strategy was effective, not only increasing nutrition knowledge which we’ve shown previously in other research, but also in affecting consumer preferences about nutritious foods.Though increased production does not assure food security and nutrition, focusing only on production diversity also does not guarantee adequate nutrients within the household. Agricultural scale needs to be discussed more in nutrition debates.”

The article is online and available for a limited time. If you are interested in setting up an interview with Andrew Dillon, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
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