Guiding Principles for Linking Agriculture and Nutrition: Synthesis from 10 development institutions

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This synthesis paper aims to provide a comprehensive list of current guidance, institutional strategies, and other publications released by international development institutions and inter-agency UN bodies on maximizing nutrition impact through agriculture.  It concludes that there is agreement on main principles regarding the link between agriculture and nutrition. It is noted that some stakeholders have voiced concern over the empirical evidence base underlying actions to increase nutrition impact from agriculture programs, but the fact that the majority of international development institutions independently recommend very similar approaches is itself a strong justification to increase action around these principles.

Twenty main messages come out of the synthesis on maximizing nutrition impact through agriculture, which are categorised into the following three categories:


  • Incorporate explicit nutrition objectives into agricultural projects, programmes, and policies.
  • Assess the context to identify and build on existing efforts, knowledge, and resources.
  • Do no harm.
  • Measure impact through monitoring and evaluation.
  • Maximize opportunities through multisectoral coordination.
  • Maximize impact of household income on nutrition, through increasing women’s access to income-generating opportunities and discretionary control of income, and other mechanisms.
  • Increase equitable access to resources through policies and programmes.
  • Target the most vulnerable groups, including smallholder farmers, women, and poor/food insecure households.


‘Doing’ or main activities

  • Diversify production and livelihoods for the improved food access and dietary diversification, natural resource management, and other purposes.
  • Increase production of nutrient-dense foods.
  • Reduce post-harvest losses and improve processing.
  • Increase market access and opportunities.
  • Reduce seasonality of food insecurity.
  • Empower women.
  • Incorporate nutrition education to improve consumption and nutrition effects of interventions.
  • Manage natural resources for improved productivity, resilience to shocks and adaptation to climate change, and increased equitable access to resources through soil, water, and biodiversity conservation.


  • Improve policy coherence supportive to nutrition.
  • Improve good governance for nutrition.
  • Build capacity.
  • Communicate and continue to advocate for nutrition.
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