Measuring nutritional quality of agricultural production systems: Application to fish production
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security journal reviews indicators which capture an element of nutritional quality applicable to different stages of the food and nutrition system, applying them to aquaculture systems. Reorienting food systems towards improving nutrition outcomes is vital if the global goal of ending all forms of malnutrition is to be achieved. Crucial to transitioning to nutrition-sensitive agriculture is valuing and measuring nutritional quality of the outputs of agricultural production. The article reveals that a large number of indicators are relevant to latter stages of the food system, while fewer are relevant at agricultural production stage. So the use of a combination of different indicators is needed for comprehensive evaluation. Indicators, therefore, which reflect on nutrition composition of species produced, diversity in nutrients produced, and the abundance or quantity of those nutrients are desirable. Especially when at the same time they are simple to calculate and interpret. ‘Nutritional yields’, ‘potential nutrient adequacy’ and ‘Rao’s quadratic entropy’ show particular promise in capturing the ability of a production system to nourish most people and could be useful tools for prioritising investments and decision-making in the public, non-government and private sectors driving agriculture. There are multiple factors that must be considered when prioritising among alternative production sub-systems. These include costs of inputs, labour requirements, environmental impacts, yield and market value of foods produced. It is impractical to assume that farmers can or will simply shift to production systems of higher nutritional quality, without economic or other benefits. From a policy perspective, the public sector can play a role through the provision of financial incentives. Shifting thinking away from ‘feeding people’ to ‘nourishing people’ requires a simple measure of nutrition quality relevant at the production sub-system level.