Agricultural Input Subsidies on Staples

Do agricultural input subsidies on staples reduce dietary diversity?


There has been a resurgence of interest in agricultural input subsidy (AIS) programmes to boost agricultural productivity and food security. However there is considerable debate regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of AIS investments, including their impact on nutrition. AIS are almost always applied to production of staple crops and aim to increase their productivity and smallholder incomes, usually also with nutrition objectives. However, the overall impact on nutrition is unclear, not least because staples tend to be calorie-dense but low in other nutrients. The aim of this research is to examine the impact of Malawi?s AIS programme targeting mostly maize on overall food choices, by examining not just price and consumption of maize but crucially the effects of the AIS programme on consumption of other foods. It will also explore the wider context of food preferences and trade-offs, including by gender and socio-economic status.

Key project areas

  • Agricultural policy
  • Food choice
  • Dietary diversity
  • Nutrition

Study design

  • Systematic review, interviews and focus groups, demand analysis, discrete choice experiment methods

Countries

  • Malawi

Dates

  • 2017-2018

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Helen Walls

Status

  • Preparation for commencement in 2017

Funding source

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Project partners

  • CIs – Deborah Johnston, Richard Smith,  Ephraim Chirwa and Tayamika Kamwanja
  • Advisory Team members – Laura Cornelsen, Luke Harman and Terri Ballard

 

The impact of agricultural input subsidies on food and nutrition security: A review and mapping of case studies


Agricultural input subsidies, a form of social protection, are often considered an important means of improving agricultural productivity in low- and middle-income countries. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest and investment in agricultural input subsidies, mainly in Africa. This resurgence has resulted from the need to boost food security in the short-term while also implementing longer-term investments to raise productivity. However there is considerable debate regarding their impact on nutrition and health outcomes. We aim to fill this knowledge gap by reviewing the evidence available on the impact of agricultural input subsidy schemes on food and nutrition security in low and middle income countries, and mapping this evidence against a conceptual framework of the pathways, to examine the pathways addressed and not addressed by this evidence, and key characteristics of these studies.

Key project areas

  • Agricultural policy
  • Nutrition
  • Health

Study design

  • Systematic review

Countries

  • Global

Dates

  • 2014/2015

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Helen Walls and Deborah Johnston (SOAS) (co-PIs)

Status

  • Analysis complete; manuscript being drafted

Funding source

  • LIDC Interdisciplinary Seed Fund

Project partners

  • Non-LSHTM collaborators include Mehroosh Tak (SOAS), Jane Dixon (City/ANU), and Lizzie Hull (SOAS)

For more information on these project please contact Helen Walls.

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