Knowledge for a sustainable world

Development Programme:
Food Systems for Improved Nutrition

This programme frames context-appropriate strategies to address nutritional challenges within food systems, and with acknowledgement of the multiple drivers of food choices and dietary patterns and determinants of food availability, quality and safety. A food system encompasses all the elements and activities relating to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food – as well as associated outputs, including socioeconomic and environmental outcomes.

Our work approaches food systems at multiple levels: from facilitating access to diverse diets in smallholder farming communities; to supporting formal and informal markets in meeting nutritional needs alongside population growth, urbanisation and rising incomes; and pursuing nutrition-sensitive export opportunities.

Previous and ongoing activities within our research and development team include:

  • Participatory analysis of food value chains, to identify context-appropriate interventions to deliver nutritional and economic benefits for male and female actors;
  • Designing and testing practical approaches to deliver improved nutrition to vulnerable populations;
  • Evaluation of novel methods for assessing diets and measuring agricultural workload, for use in remote and low-income settings;
  • Use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the context of smallholder agriculture, dietary assessment and market analyses;
  • Testing consumer acceptability and preferences, to inform strategies which build demand for novel nutritious food products;
  • Measuring, documenting and developing interventions to mitigate the nutritional impact of post-harvest crop losses and waste;
  • Optimising food processing to increase availability and accessibility of nutritious foods, including nutrient retention in biofortified crops (e.g. orange-fleshed sweet potato);
  • Inclusive research methodology, programmes and capacity-building activities that support women, youth and vulnerable groups in their roles within food systems.