Promotion of agrobiodiversity can improve food and nutrition: Study

PUNE: A study by the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) conducted in three locations in the semi-arid region of Maharashtra to address food and nutritional insecurities has found that dietary diversity score and haemoglobin level increased significantly in the case of the intervention group.
Villages were selected for the study from among those where watershed development and improvements to soil health were implemented in the past with financial support. A set of interventions was initiated for this action research, including agrobiodiversity assessment, generation of awareness on food and nutrition, crop planning, multi-layer farming, haemoglobin assessment, monitoring growth of children, and food demonstration.
A small fraction of households from two project villages per district were selected to benefit from the interventions. Another group of households was also selected as the control or comparison group, which did not receive these inputs.
The main objective of the study was to determine the impact of agriculture, food, and nutritional security (Agri-FNS) on the diet and health of the targeted farmers. Moreover, the economic benefit of multi-layer farming interventions was also assessed. A quasi-experimental research design was adopted.
The study results suggested that the intervention group’s dietary diversity score and haemoglobin level increased significantly over the control group, which speaks of the quality of interventions. “Many villagers (residents of the villages where the interventions were carried out) were interested in activities like multi-layer farming and crop planning. Multi-layer farming was found to be economically viable. Most of the farmers in the intervention group expressed their satisfaction with Agri-FNS interventions, and were interested in participating in future FNS activities,” the study said.