Agriculture and Nutrition /

The marketplace is the most effective place for making dietary changes.We are using the agriculture value chain to identify opportunities for nutrition intervention at each stage – from food production to storage, processing to distribution, retail, marketing and food preparation.

Our goal is to build an enabling environment for investment in agriculture and nutrition.

The urban poor and rural families who work in agriculture make choices based on what is available in the market. Despite working on crop-yielding farms, many agricultural families are undernourished and often hungry.

Food systems are under pressure from the continuing shift of people to cities, which rely on commercial channels for food. Climate change has an impact on the availability of nutrients in the food system, potentially requiring shifts to more heat-tolerant grains.

In light of these challenges, we are working to modify the agricultural value chain to increase the amount and diversity of nutrients in a range of foods to benefit the most vulnerable people. From seed choices and growing techniques to food processing, farmers and entrepreneurs can make choices and employ new technologies to make more food more nutritious.

Our work/

GAIN was one of the first organizations to explore the integration of nutrition into agriculture. This was before it became widely accepted that nutrition should be incorporated into other program areas for long-term impact and sustainability.

Our initial investments focused on research, and we plan to expand on this to continue identifying particular needs and solutions to produce better food. We are developing advisory services to bring partners and thought leaders together to make nutrition non-negotiable in the political and agricultural communities.

To mobilize the private sector in the fight against malnutrition and to make sure the best ideas in agriculture and nutrition are widely used, GAIN has developed the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods. Through meetings and discussions, new business ideas can be tested and adapted, which can help entrepreneurs address market failures and policy constraints.



Success Stories /

GAIN and USAID completed innovative research to identify foods being consumed by children aged 6 to 24 months who live in two areas in rural Kenya. It revealed that diets of locally available foods were low in iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B12, and that mothers bought core foods in markets, indicating that the marketplace can improve access to nutritious complementary foods.

In Bangladesh, GAIN has investigated opportunities to improve the nutrient density of rice. Dependence on this staple food, which is low in nutrient density, is believed to contribute to high rates of malnutrition. Zinc deficiency, which can lead to stunting, is a major problem in Bangladesh, where 57 percent of preschool-age children are estimated to be zinc-deficient. Zinc is essential because it is affects more body functions than any other mineral and is necessary for growth and development. GAIN evaluated a range of potential interventions to improve zinc content in rice — from zinc-enriched fertilizers to reducing the degree of rice milling — and identified the most effective approach for future investment: fortifying rice grain during the soaking process.

In Ghana, GAIN conducted an evaluation of the peanut value chain to provide insights that will improve the availability, access and use of peanuts on a commercial scale. The goal: to develop new peanut-based products that can provide nutritionally vulnerable farm households with new income opportunities and expand access to the nutrients in peanuts, while protecting consumers from aflatoxin contamination.

Nutritious Agriculture by Design: A Tool for Program Planning

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), developed “Nutritious Agriculture by Design: A Tool for Program Planning” for assessing and improving the linkages between agriculture and nutrition. In particular, for focusing agricultural projects on the production of crops and livestock that are rich in micronutrients, and their consumption by those whose diets are nutritionally deficient. The tool is designed to be applied to existing and planned agricultural projects that primarily focus on: (i) improving agricultural productivity; and (ii) raising the incomes of farm households, including the households of agricultural labour. The tool aims to identify ways in which agricultural interventions can be made more nutrition-friendly and nutritional outcomes and impacts can be captured through monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks.

To read more, download the GAIN-IDS Discussion Paper: Nutritious Agriculture by Design: A Tool for Program Planning by clicking here.


Marketplace for Nutritious Foods /


Launched in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania with initial funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods is a platform to provide market-based solutions for nutritious foods accessible to bottom of the pyramid consumers via three key components:

  • Innovation Accelerator: supports local agri-businesses with technical and financial assistance to bring their nutritious food innovations to market
  • Community of Practice: brings together stakeholders from business, government, investors, donors, NGOs for joint learning, networking & building an enabling environment for nutrition
  • Access to finance: establishes links to private investors

In Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya, the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods has helped many a local business get off the ground by fostering innovation and promoting investment to transform local agriculture into accessible and nutritious foods. Read real life stories of how this is happening on the ground now in Africa.