Setting priorities to address the research gaps between agricultural systems analysis and food security outcomes in low- and middle- income countries
This working paper (PDF) by CGAIR assesses the current state of practice for the representation of food security indicators in agricultural systems models and provides recommendations for improvements in both model formulation and the empirical evidence base underlying it. The assessment found that there is broad agreement at conceptual level about linkages between agricultural systems and food security. However, the extant conceptual frameworks are often not specific enough. Moreover, the representations of food security indicators in empirical model analyses of both households and regions are diverse yet often inconsistent with the definitions more commonly emphasized by human nutritionists. Often, empirical models appear to equate measures of production or yields with “food security” when these are indicators only of the “availability” dimension of food security. It is recommended that agricultural systems models focus on incorporating three food access indicators: 1) food consumption expenditures; 2) experiene-based food insecurity scales; and 3) measures of household dietary diversity. The evidence base is currently insufficient to support robust and reliable integration of experience-based food insecurity scales and household dietary diversity into agricultural systems models. Collection of information, preferably using longitudinal data approaches, is needed so that model extensions can include these indicators. Additional study is needed to document and refine the general nature of relationships between common outputs of agricultural systems models and the other two indicators of food access. Priorities for application of agricultural systems models integrating improved representations of food security indicators could include assessment of shocks that could negatively affect production or incomes. The proof-of-concept analyses incorporating food access indicators at the household and regional levels have highlighted the empirical challenges of doing so, but also the benefits of doing so. Broad dissemination of the findings to the agricultural systems modeling and nutrition community is recommended.