Improving micronutrient intake through increased dietary diversity and consumption of micronutrient-rich foods is the main objective of the Affordable Nutritious Foods for Women (ANF4W) project, a development partnership with the private sector.
In Bangladesh, ANF4W trains small-scale farming households in agronomic biofortification of rice with zinc since 2014. In addition, female household members receive trainings in homestead food production and nutrition and a larger behavior change communication campaign is carried out. A cross-sectional survey was conducted after 14 months of intervention. A total of randomly selected 335 households in 10 intervention and 11 control villages were interviewed. Data was collected on agricultural and dietary practices. Monitoring data provided information on rice yield and use of agricultural inputs. Rice grain samples were taken after two harvest seasons to determine zinc content.
Agronomic biofortification led to higher grain zinc content of rice comparing mean (±SD) levels (in ppm) of treatment and control plots in both seasons: 15.9 (2.7) vs. 20.4 (4.9), 17.1 (4.2) vs. 20.1 (5.8). Agronomic biofortification practices were applied by 78% of trained households which in addition grew more than twice different types of vegetables compared to control (16.0 vs. 6.1). Mean (±SE) women’s dietary diversity score was 6.3 (0.1) and 4.9 (0.1) in the intervention and control area, respectively. Zinc intake of intervention women aged =19 years was 42% higher (p=0.001) attributed to zinc-enriched rice.
Integrating nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions in agriculture has the potential to improve overall dietary quality and micronutrient-specific needs of the rural population of Bangladesh.