Embedding CLA Practices to Foster Improvements in Nutrition & Farm Production
Food insecurity, disease, and inadequate dietary intake are major public health problems across Khatlon province in southwestern Tajikistan. However, crop diversification and productivity enhancements within small-scale homestead farms offer opportunities to improve livelihoods and increase consumption of nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. The Feed the Future Tajikistan Agriculture and Water Activity (TAWA) addresses the development challenge of raising incomes by directly engaging rural women in agricultural productivity, while also boosting awareness of better nutrition and sanitation behaviors. TAWA developed a nutrition-sensitive "Farm to Fork" capacity building program specifically targeting women of reproductive age and focusing on agricultural production (the "farm") in order to make nutrient-dense foods more readily available in household (the "fork"). Nutrition strengthening focuses on better food storage, preservation, preparation, and processing, and improving soil health. Importantly, Farm to Fork embeds the practices of CLA into Activity decision making for continuous learning and improvement.
While still too early to determine the full effect of the CLA approach on development outcomes, after three and half years of implementation, initial evidence from a small random sample survey on sustained behavioral change is encouraging. The survey included a small sample of TAWA participants selected from five villages in the first cohort of women in May 2016. Estimated adoption rates included 91 percent for hygienic care of dairy cows, 88 percent for improved canning, 82 percent for improved backyard compost production, and 72 percent for household budgeting and financial management. Adoption rates were lower for vegetable and fruit drying (46 percent), largely due to reluctance to adopt use of sulfur in the process. As the margins of error on this small survey are large (between 9 and 17 percent at 95 percent degree of confidence), these statistics should be used with caution.