Assessment of the Barriers and Facilitators of Healthy Food Production, Purchase, and Consumption in the Amhara and SNNP Regions of Ethiopia
The research aims at evaluating the barriers and facilitating factors that influence household nutrition practices and decision-making with regard to the production, consumption, utilization, sale and purchase of nutrient-rich foods. The study tries to understand the dynamics of household food production and dietary management in order to inform the project’s nutrition sensitive agricultural packages and SBCC strategy.The purpose of the study is to inform Growth through Nutrition activities that support and train rural farming households on consumption and marketing of nutrient-rich foods to better ensure that production investment, as well as other market-based strategies result in positive dietary benefits.
A qualitative research plan was developed to collect data on knowledge, attitudes and practices related to household nutrition management with an emphasis on the production, consumption, retention, sale and purchase facilitators and barriers of nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables and small animals. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), Key Informant Interviews (KIIs), Transect Walks, and Technical Observations was conducted in six woredas representing three key agro-ecological zones (lowland, midland and highland) in Amhara and SNNPR.
The specific objectives of the study are to answer the following key evaluation questions:
What factors affect household decisions to produce healthy foods?
What factors affect decisions to consume healthy foods produced by the household rather than selling them or otherwise not consuming?
What factors drive decisions to purchase healthy foods, given (2)?
Do decisions to sell one’s own production of healthy foods affect household food security or diet quality?
Many factors were found to shape the production, consumption, retention, purchase and sale practices of households included in this study. Within most households, extensive and intensive decisions of whether, what and how much to produce shaped by many factors including access to labor, critical production inputs, household consumption needs, as well as financial concerns such as access to credit. Throughout the woredas sampled in Amhara and SNNP regions, there was apparent similarity with regard to the drivers and barriers of specific behaviors as they pertain to household nutrition and diet diversity.
While women from many MVHHs have begun to feed their children fruits and vegetables since they believe that these products will help their children grow strong, their knowledge with regard to production and consumption of healthy food seems to have substantially increased as a result of the education provided to them by HEWs and AEWs. In turn, some model farmers have got a chance to attend training reported increased familiarity with new vegetable and fruit crop varieties, despite ongoing reluctance to adopt these new items into their daily consumption patterns.
Overall recipients of programmatic support for the production of nutrient-rich foods (women from MVHH) and MF were also quite pleased with the program’s provision of both improved varieties of seeds and small animals for rearing at the household level and training. However, many of the program beneficiaries perceived land shortage and pervasive water insecurity as barriers to household fruit, vegetable and animal production (this is especially the case for small animal keeping which is considered as potential for conflict with neighbors), which resulted in the inefficient use of program resources. Financial challenges were found to derive from unfavorable financial conditions for the procurement of production inputs (i.e. fertilizer and pesticide for crops, and drugs for animals), lack of access to high-quality medicines or drugs for livestock.