Examining nutrition impacts of horticultural innovations
Project Title: Bangladesh Aquaculture-Horticulture for Nutrition Collaborative Research Program
Target Country: Bangladesh
Principal Investigator: Patrick Webb, Nutrition Innovation Lab, Tufts University*
*Note: For this project, the Horticulture Innovation Lab is a subcontractor on this associate award from USAID led by Tufts University.
- Nutrition Innovation Lab, Tufts University
- Horticulture Innovation Lab, UC Davis
- World Fish Bangladesh
- Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU)
- Patuakhali University of Technology (PUT)
This collaborative project is funded by an associate award to the Nutrition Innovation Lab team at Tufts University. The primary questions the Nutrition Innovation Lab seeks to answer in Bangladesh are:
- What have been the impacts of different approaches linking Agriculture, Nutrition and Health on dietary diversity and nutritional status (i.e. geographic co-location of programs, integration of interventions, combinations)?
- Have programs to increase farmers’ incomes resulted in improved nutrition when not coupled with nutrition programming?
Horticulture Innovation Lab's role
As a sub-contractor on this multi-Innovation Lab project, the Horticulture Innovation Lab will implement three different technologies to test the potential of horticulture and aquaculture innovations to improve income, consumption and nutrition by increasing year-round availability of aquaculture and horticulture products. The technologies used for this will be floating gardens, cool rooms, and chimney solar dryers, each implemented at the community level. The team aims to demonstrate the value of technologies that improve shelf life of foods, thus increasing economic benefits and nutrition benefits of aquaculture and horticulture commodities.
Floating gardens: The Horticulture Innovation Lab will evaluate the feasibility, utility and economic sustainability of floating gardens on fish ponds. The floating garden beds are made from local materials, such as bamboo, and plastic floats — with local materials for the growth medium. Specific issues that will be addressed include:
- The interaction between the gardens and the fish in pond culture
- Productivity of floating garden vegetables, number of crops per season.
- Effects of nutrients in the pond on plant growth, and of nutrients provided to the plants on fish productivity
- Effects of floating gardens on water quality (temperature, oxygen content, nutrient load)
- Pond microbial load and effects on safety of produce harvested from floating gardens
Cool rooms: The second technology to be implemented is small-scale cool rooms, to assess the impact of cool storage on availability and quality of fruits, vegetables and fish in the community, particularly in the off-season. The insulated rooms will be fitted with a window air conditioner and a CoolBot controller. The impact of cool storage on market prices for farmers’ goods will be determined.
Chimney solar dryer: The third technology to be implemented in three additional communities is the UC Davis chimney dryer for rapid solar drying of fish, vegetables and fruits. Attention will be given to the availability and cost of construction materials; the efficiency and safety of using the dryer for drying fish, vegetables and fruit as compared to traditional methods; the effectiveness of the dryer year-round, particularly in the rainy season; and methods for storing the dried products after drying.
Data collected from households (both using and not using these technologies) are intended to examine differences relating to agricultural productivity, changes in income-earning activities, priority investments at household level, behavior change in terms of health seeking and hygiene, and changes in diet quality. Qualitative interviews will also be conducted with households selected to use the horticultural technologies, to assess their perspectives on economic viability, desirability, time demands, repair and sustainability issues related to the new technology.
- Nutrition Innovation Lab in Bangladesh
- Fact sheet about the chimney solar dryer design: Solar drying adds value to crop surplus (PDF)
- Fact sheet about the CoolBot: CoolBot provides inexpensive, effective cooling (PDF)
- Article about the Horticulture Innovation Lab's work with the CoolBot: How one farmer’s invention is reducing food waste around the world