by Yassir Islam, HarvestPlus
Evaluations are useful for studying agricultural interventions to evaluate nutrition and health outcomes. From 2007 to 2009, HarvestPlus and its partners OFSP (orange-fleshed sweet potato) disseminated to 24,000 households in Uganda and Mozambique with the goal of reducing vitamin A deficiency. A cluster randomized design with baseline and endline surveys were used to evaluate the intervention. “This was a good example of research and impact working together” said Gilligan.
Gilligan and his team reported a 68% and 61% increase in adoption of OFSP in Mozambique and Uganda respectively. The share of OFSP in the total area dedicated to sweet potato increased pretty sharply since households substituted OFSP for white or yellow sweet potato. This was the intended effect—an increase in substituting OFSP for less nutritious varieties, not necessarily an increase in overall production area.
There was also a significant net increase in vitamin A intakes across three crucial groups: young children, older children and women in both countries. In some instances, this increased intake resulted in children reaching the recommended intakes for their age group.
In this project, there was little difference in terms of impact between two models that were implemented in the project. One was less-intensive, and thus less expensive, than the other model. Gillian discussed how costs of promoting could be brought down. “This is crucial to achieving a large-scale impact on vitamin A deficiency in populations,” he said. Costs to ‘scale-up’ this intervention could be brought down through greater diffusion of OFSP between farming communities and by exploring other models that could work better. With funding from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) Gilligan intends to conduct research in Uganda to investigate this further.