Senior Technical Advisor USAID Advancing Nutrition Arlington, Virginia
Food processing has the potential to improve micronutrient bioavailability. USAID’s Feed the Future projects can increase year-round access to and use of micronutrient-rich foods, in part through food processing, but little is known about food processing in these projects. This study sought to better understand the use of and opportunities for food processing to improve micronutrient intake in the Feed the Future program.
We reviewed documentation from over 60 Feed the Future projects implemented from 2010 to 2019, including projects centrally managed by USAID in Washington, D.C. and missions in over 16 countries. Projects were selected from a descriptive list of centrally managed projects, lists of projects on Feed the Future country websites, and a search on the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse website for Feed the Future projects with a food processing component.
We found that about three-quarters of the projects had a food processing component, and of these, about half had nutrition objectives related to food processing. However, documentation did not describe which micronutrients were lacking in the target population’s diet and if and how food processing was to fill micronutrient gaps. Monitoring the impact of the food processing component was generally weak. Recommendations are provided to strengthen the food processing component of Feed the Future projects to improve their impact on increasing micronutrient intake in targeted populations in a way that promotes optimal health.
Feed the Future implementers have opportunities to strategically incorporate and improve food processing in projects to increase micronutrient intake among key targets groups.