Commercially viable agriculture and consumption of nutritious foods: a framework for identifying development pathways : A desk review

Herens, M.C.; Peters, Bram; Brouwers, J.H.A.M.; Bosch, D.R.B.; Maden, E.C.L.J. van der; Linderhof, Vincent; Verhagen, A.


Food systems in low and middle income countries are changing rapidly in response to economic and market developments, environmental impacts, and dietary changes. Within this context, informed policy and sustainable development processes are needed to shape climate-smart and resilient food systems for food and nutrition security at farming household level. This research project aimed to a) explore the complexity of the contextual dynamics in which smallholder farming households operate; and b) contribute to a better conceptual understanding of commercial food production strategies in relation to consumption choices. A literature review was conducted, exploring both scientific and grey literature, in parallel to consultation rounds with a multidisciplinary team of agronomists, economists, nutritionists and international development specialists to explore existing insights, align available expertise, and find common ground on how to create a useful framework that would fit the specific interests and expertise of each of the actors involved. Key elements for our framework were preliminary drawn from existing frameworks. A number of - non-exclusive - pathways were identified. These include subsistence-oriented production for the household’s own consumption (source of food), whereby women – as producers as well as care takers - are seen as the crucial agents for household food security and health outcomes; production for sale in markets (source of income); and agricultural policies (national and global), affecting a range of supply and demand factors that establish the price of marketed food and non-food crops (food price policies). The important characteristics for the framework for viable commercial agriculture and consumption of nutritious foods evolve around different aggregation levels: the individual (gender and power dynamics), the household (household food production, income generation, food purchase choices, care practices, access to health care), the community (employment opportunity, collaboration, microfinance, care and social (infra)structure), and the regional/nation (price and trade policy) level.