A quantitative food consumption survey of infants and young children in rural Ghana: a first step in linking agriculture and nutrition

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Agricultural models used to analyse and re-design farming systems using multi-objective optimisation do not take into account household nutrition needs, while the development of dietary guidelines do not take into account the local food systems and agricultural productivity. Combination of agricultural productivity and nutritional needs may result in farm designs that optimize nutrition. One of the first steps in linking agriculture productivity and nutritional needs is to identify strategies to improve the nutritional quality of the diet based on locally available foods.

USAID/Ghana requested GAIN to conduct dietary analysis using Optifood software (linear programming) to identify a set of evidence-based, population-specific, food-based recommendations that can be promoted to improve the nutritional status of young children in farming communities of Northern and Southern Ghana. The food consumption study will be a cross-sectional survey to collect quantitative dietary data and food cost, and preparation of a local food composition table (FCT) necessary as inputs to use Optifood software.

I will use the study results from Northern Ghana (Karag district) to develop food based recommendations at household level and translate these into total food needed for dietary adequacy at household level which can be used to identify strategies to design farm systems for optimised nutrition (see figure). The study received ethical clearance by the Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) in Ghana and we will start data collection in July. I am very much looking forward to take up this new challenge!

Ilse de Jager

Published before on N2Africa Facebook on April 28th