In this paper, we study whether the introduction of a biofortified crop, specifically Orange Flesh Sweet Potato, can have positive impacts on variables related to child morbidity. The project, called Reaching End Users, introduced Orange Flesh Sweet Potato to households with young children in Zambezia Province in Mozambique between 2006 and 2009. The project used an integrated delievry method, combining seed systems, demand creation, and marketing arms.
The impact evaluation associated with the Reaching End Users project was conducted with a cluster randomized trial in 36 villages. Diarrhea prevlanence and severity was enumerated among all children under 5 years old in both the baseline and endline survey rounds (2006 and 2009, respectively). The survey effort included both socioeconomic data collection and a 24 hour dietary intake by recall.
Based on a sample of 866 children under age 5, biofortication reduced diarrhea prevalence by 11.4 percentage points(95% CI 2.0 – 20.8), and by 18.9 percentage points in children under age three(95% CI 6.6 – 68.3). Diarrhea duration was also reduced.
The evidence in the paper is promising for biofortificaion, in that an agricultural intervention could have measurable health benefits among the target population. Astargeted households are more remote on average and therefore difficult to reach with vitamin A supplementation, implyingbiofortification can be a very complementary strategy to supplementation. That said, benefits might be difficult to measure in other contexts- the vitamin A deficiency level in the target population was quite high at baseline.