Value chains for nutrition

Changes in diets, physical activity patterns, and food markets are leading to the paradoxical coexistence of over- and undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries.

As lack of diet diversity is likely to lead to micronutrient deficiencies, this trend contributes to increased child and maternal mortality, as well as the underdevelopment of young children.

However, the problem of malnutrition cannot be solved by economic growth alone, as growing incomes may lead to other health problems such as obesity.

One way to sustainably improve the quality of diets and nutrition-related behaviors is by promoting policy-, market- and food-based approaches to increase access to high-quality diets.

Considering the key role that value chains play in determining food availability, affordability, quality, and acceptability, they provide opportunities to promote better nutrition. Increasing access to affordable high-quality diets through value chains for nutrition is an eligible approach for dealing with the results of the “nutrition transition” taking place in low- and middle-income countries.

The value chain for nutrition approach

The value chain for nutrition approach can be defined as the process of developing a strategy that addresses a set of nutrition problems through interventions within specific value chains. The general aim of the value chains for nutrition approach is to identify opportunities where chain actors benefit from the marketing of agricultural products with higher nutritional value, in particular focusing on those value chains that are most relevant to the poor.

What we do: Deploying value chains for nutrition gains

The overall aim of CIAT’s value chain for nutrition approach is to increase the production and consumption of more diverse, safe and nutrient-dense foods for improved food security, nutrition and income of smallholder farmers, peri-urban, and urban consumers.


Tools and methodologies to make market linkages work

How we do it: Pushing all the buttons, at once

CIAT’s work on value chains for nutrition is only made possible through the efforts of a multidisciplinary team, working in partnership with national and international development organizations and partner institutions. Together they deploy a holistic, demand-driven, impact-oriented action research approach, assessing sustainable food availability, food access, food use, food quality, food safety and food utilization. In this approach, particular attention is given to gender equality, inclusive business relationships and the sustainability of agricultural production.

CIAT’s research on value chains for nutrition is supported by the LINK methodology, a value chain research instrument developed by CIAT.

Our Impact

Strengthened the peach palm (a.k.a. chontaduro) value chain in Buenaventura and tropical rainforest agro-ecosystems of Colombia’s pacific coast and boosted the productivity and incomes of 110 producers.

Established, with partners, Kenya’s first solar-powered “bubble” drier, which improves bean quality and commercial value, retaining nutritious qualities before they are turned into a porridge flour, as part of a project to fight malnutrition among vulnerable urban and rural consumers.

Created the National Quinoa Platform, and assisted farmers and policymakers in Colombia develop strategies to capitalize on the income-generating and food security potential of quinoa production in marginalized highland areas.

Provided technical assistant and forage grass hybrids to improve food security of farmers’ enrolled in the Rwanda’s One Cow per Poor Family Initiative and ensure animal survival, and milk and meat production, throughout the dry season.

Research updates

value chain | CIAT Blog Science to Cultivate Change


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Latest publications

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