Agriculture for Nutrition

Traditionally, the agriculture industry has focused on producing high yielding crops to fuel economic growth and feed the world’s population. While this focus has led to tremendous gains in global food production, saving millions from hunger, the availability and affordability of diverse and nutritious crops – our food – has been neglected.  GAIN’s Agriculture for Nutrition Global Program strengthens the links between agriculture and nutrition by identifying the most effective approaches to retain and enhance nutrition in food along the agricultural value chain – from food production and storage to processing, distribution, retail and preparation.

The Agriculture for Nutrition program promotes dietary diversity by helping businesses innovate and grow with the aim of improving the availability of nutritious foods in local markets. The majority of the world’s poor living in rural, and increasingly urban areas, are malnourished in large part because they subsist on monotonous diets comprised of starchy staples lacking essential nutrients. These families, particularly those who work in agriculture, rely on what is available in their local markets to feed themselves and their families. There are opportunities across the entire value chain for farmers and other food actors to help make nutritious foods more affordable and accessible to vulnerable populations.

Our goal is to build an enabling environment for investment in agriculture and nutrition to improve the availability of and access to affordable, nutritious, and diversified diets. The AgNut program is able to achieve these goals by focusing our programming on:

Scaling Nutritious Commodity Value Chains

Shaping Nutritious Food Systems

Improving Farmer Nutrition

What our short video about cultivating nutritious food system in stories East Africa.

Our Approach

The Agriculture for Nutrition Global Program (AgNut) focuses on three strategic pillars of work that address:

  • Limited access to safe and affordable nutritious fresh commodities and minimally processed foods;
  • Investment in removing market constraints for nutritious foods for low income populations;
  • Lack of attention to and limited understanding of the nutritional status of farming households and their ability to consume nutritious and diverse diets.

Our three pillars are:

Scaling nutritious commodity value chains

  • GAIN implements novel solutions to the issues hindering the availability of nutritious commodities. Through our projects addressing postharvest loss and waste, food safety in the peanut value chain, and improvements to the nutrient content of rice, we work to coordinate measurable actions to address bottlenecks in specific value chains. Our innovative, multisectoral approaches improve the availability of nutritious foods in the marketplace.

Improving nutrition through local food systems

  • GAIN works to strengthen networks, foster innovations and provide investment to bring affordable nutritious foods to the market. Low income populations, particularly women with infants and young children, are reliant on the foods available in their local markets. If these foods are not affordable or accessible, it can have a great impact on the nutrition outcomes of the family. AgNut not only works to support small and medium scale enterprises to bring nutritious foods to low income markets, but also to improve the nutrition status of target communities through behavior change and adoption of positive health practices.

Improving farmer nutrition

  • The health of farmers and their families is critical to the success of a nutrition sensitive agriculture system. Sadly, food producers are some of the most vulnerable to undernourishment. As the global food system expands, cash crops and export supply chains offer a strong entry point to improve the nutrition of farmers. GAIN works with global supply chain players in the coffee, tea and cocoa industry to create incentives to help improve the health, nutritional status and productivity of their employees through behavior change mechanisms, and public and private investment.

Our solutions

Marketplace for Nutritious Foods
GAIN’s Marketplace for Nutritious Foods  is a platform that fosters innovation and drives investment in the production, marketing, and consumption of nutritious foods made from locally-produced agricultural products. The Marketplace provides access to knowledge, networks, and technical and financial assistance to help businesses in low-income countries use local agriculture to contribute to the fight against malnutrition.

Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN)
As a leader in identifying and delivering solutions to address malnutrition, GAIN has developed the Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition to bring together public and private sector actors to address the loss and waste of nutritious foods. Through its Alliance and Business to Business Engine (B2BE), PLAN aims to make nutritious food more accessible and available for all. The project brings together actors to drive research, and the exchange of knowledge and technology on postharvest loss and waste in the following categories: Advocacy, Knowledge and Research, Standards and Regulations, Agribusiness and Technology, and Finance.

Seeds of Prosperity
In partnership with Unilever, GAIN is working to help small-scale farmers with a program called ‘Seeds of Prosperity’. The aim of this program is to improve the diet of small-scale farmers and their families through the promotion of dietary diversity along with improving health and wellbeing. GAIN and Unilever are focusing on the health of farmers, pregnant women, and children, and are committed to empowering women by helping to improve access to resources and opportunities.

Resilience and Economic Growth in Arid Lands- Increasing Resilience (REGAL-IR)
REGAL-IR is a USAID-funded project that helps communities build their capacity to cope with the frequent droughts common in northern Kenya. As the project’s nutrition partner, GAIN works with the Ministry of Health and local Community Health Volunteers to empower community groups with the nutrition knowledge they need to diversify the diets of young children and women of childbearing age to increase their consumption of micronutrient-rich foods.

Focused Ethnographic Studies (FES) and Optifood Studies
GAIN conducts two related, but separate research studies. FES is the formative landscape analysis aimed at understanding the cultural, social and economic contexts of infant and young child feeding behaviors from the household and marketing perspectives. Optifood is a linear programming software that identifies the lowest-cost combination of local foods that meets, or comes as close as possible to meeting, nutrient needs of specific target groups. GAIN has conducted FES/Optifood studies in Ghana and Kenya.

Read more about it in our Kenya Ethnographic Study

Vihiga and Kitui briefs
There is increasing recognition of the need for implementation research that is designed to provide context-specific information and data to inform decisions for planning nutrition and public health interventions. This brief provides evidence for decisions to improve maternal and young child nutrition derived from a systematic landscape analysis in the county.



Read an Overview of GAIN’s Agriculture for Nutrition Global Program
Read our factsheet on our Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition project to learn more about the projects structure and goals.

Cultivating Nutritious Food Systems: A Snapshot Report
Cultivating Nutritious Food Systems: A Snapshot Report, authored by Bonnie McClafferty, Director of the Agriculture for Nutrition Global Program at GAIN follows nutrition along the agricultural supply chain and explores the success stories and challenges where agriculture and nutrition are working together.

Improving the nutritional status of tea farming families in Indonesia
This concept brief analyzes the nutritional status of smallholder tea farmers and plantation workers, who lack access to nutritious foods, and features a call to action to help invest in good agricultural and nutritional practices.

Improving the diet of farming families supplying tea for Unilever in Tamil Nadu, India
Click here for more information about some of the outcomes from GAIN’s pilot of the ‘Seeds of Prosperity’ program.

Marketplace for Nutritious Food Overview
Learn about the structure, goals and impact of GAIN’s Marketplace for Nutritious Foods.

Vihiga and Kitui Briefs
There is increasing recognition of the need for implementation research that is designed to provide context-specific information and data to inform decisions for planning nutrition and public health interventions. This brief provides evidence for decisions to improve maternal and young child nutrition derived from a systematic landscape analysis in the county.

Kenya Ethnographic Study
Focused Ethnographic Studies of Infant and Young Child Feeding Behaviours, Beliefs, Contexts, and Environments in Vihiga, Kitui, Isiolo, Marsabit and Turkana Counties in Kenya. – This monograph presents the findings of ethnographic studies of infant and young child feeding that were undertaken in five counties in Kenya – Vihiga, Kitui, Isiolo, Marsabit and Turkana as part of a large project aimed at improving nutrition in these communities.



How to GAIN from GCCA International Projects


Marketplace for Nutritious Foods


Nutritious Agriculture by Design Electronic Tool and Discussion Paper