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Messaging to Ag Extentionists on IYCN Practices

Messaging to Ag Extentionists on IYCN Practices

Posted by KLadd on 3 Jun 2013

It is important to remember that Ag extentionist are aggies not nutritionist.  Not to say there is not some room for general information on IYCN practices but all messages should be "housed" in terms they understand.  Our goal is not to turn them into nutritionist any more than we as nutritionist will become aggies.  rather they need to know some basics and then know who to contact for more information.  This is why cross collaboration is extremely important.  Ag extentionist like CHW's are over burdened and we should not be adding to their work load but rather going along side them to deliver messages. 

ACDI/VOCA has developed and is piloting some messages on diet diversity, intercropping, micronutrients, breastfeeding, that are housed with ag messages.  for example if talking about micronutrients you compare them to how fertilizers make your crops strong and health the same way micronutrients make your children grow strong and health.  It is important to remember that Ag extentionist work with farmers, who may or may not be direct care givers.  We need to put those messages in terms they understand. 

In the same way we as nutritionist should be engaging ag extentionist in working with households on kitchen gardens.  We can share what crops will meet the micronutrients deficiencies in the area but Ag Extentionist are best trained to create a planting schedule to have those crops available year round.  In addition they can provide training on ways to plant so that it reduces the work load for the women, hence not taking time away from caring practices.

So remember your target beneficiaries.  If you are in a traditional value chain program the beneficiaries are farmers and the messages should be given in a context that relates to them.

Collaboration is key across sectors.  Bring a nutritionist to an ag training and involve aggies in agriculture training at the household level.  Don't try to turn the other into an expert in your field of expertise.

Messages that transcend the agriculture/nutrition divide

Posted by Patrick Coonan on 10 Jun 2013

Ladd, this is a really insightful reflection on the question of how we construct effective messages for agricultural professionals on nutrition topics and effective messages for nutritionists on agricultural topics. I’m really excited to hear how the piloting goes and see any examples of materials by ACDI/VOCA that you’re willing to share!

Does anyone else in NALAN have examples or stories of how you have formulated effective messages across the agriculture/nutrition divide. What have you learned about formulating compelling messages to agricultural professionals on nutrition topics or to nutritionists on agricultural topics?


Effective mesaging across Ag/Nut

Posted by kmacd on 29 Aug 2013

Hello NALAN,

Thanks Ladd and Patrick. There were some really intersting points raised here. 

 Working with CHWs I think that it is always a challenge to not oversaturate them with information. It can be overwhelming to the CHW and the message can end up not being very effective if we are sharing this long list of behaviors to adopt to our beneficiaires. I think the key is identifing those lynchpins. What are the messagaes and behaviors that have a big impact. Are there key points that are essential for impacting both Ag and Nut?

I'm curious if ACDI/VOCA has found anything since this was last posted that they would want to share. Does anyone else have any tools on this topic to share? It would be interesting to see something on designing messages.



Nutrition message for Ag Ex Workers

Posted by KLadd on 5 Sep 2013

Right now we are starting piloting of some basic messages but do not have results yet.  We conducted barrier analysis among our farmers (women and men) and determined some of the root barriers.  Interestingly enough the main challenge was income and not knowledge.  Of course this means that within every activity that we are working with farmers to increase income we are including nutrition messages on diet diversity, etc.  Thus when they do increase incomes hopefully they will be more focused on using it towards household diet diversity.  Obviously there are many other activties that can also be included if working directly with households such as home gardens to increase access to micronutrient rich foods and small animals for protein. 

However often the challenge in value chain or market systems approaches is that we do not work directly with the farmers but maybe with the Farmer Coop Unions or other actors in the value chain.  This creates a need to find innovative ways to get messages out.  We are piloting a cascading training to TOT's at the FCU's who then train their small holder members.  We are currently rolling this out in Ethiopia and will include M&E of the behaviors included.  As you can imagine this will be challenging since we are not necessarily training the main caregiver or food preparer.  However, I believe that if you can change the attitude of the entire community or household through different methods it will improve the outcomes.  As most know we can train caregivers but if they do not have control over the income little will actually change other than their knowledge.  Hence important to get the whole household trained through a variety of methods and messages.  It is important to harmonize the messages even if the target audience and method is a bit different.

As results are available I will be glad to share.



income not food

Posted by ccraig221 on 5 Sep 2013

Hi Ladd,

I was especially interested in your analysis - we can confirm that farmers want income above all.  We are trying to introduce new foods and farmers want to know what their sale value is. In our case if farmers have enough rice to feel full, that is all they "need".  One of our team is trying to introduce hanging gardens for home use, but their interest seems to be only in money making ventures.

I would love to see your results when they are available.

Thanks for your input.




Increased incomes

Posted by KLadd on 5 Sep 2013


You are correct many if not most people want cash in hand.  I am actually okay with that as they have other costs but we spend a lot of time training on diet diversity and the advantages to them and their families (including less work days lost to illness, cost for health care, cost of not breastfeeding, etc.) so that they will prioritize income to purchasing a diverse diet.  We also have breakdowns for them to look at costs of income spent to buy a diverse diet verses if they grow themselves.  I rarely, as a hard line, encourage away from cash crops our goal is not substinence farming.  We do have a budgeting training for farmers that includes budgeting to buy food if you only grow mainly cash crops.  It is very hard to get people to think in the future when the cash is in hand now.  We do a lot of work with seasonal calendars to map out income sources and when they come in (crops, casual labor, etc) when fees are paid (schooling, inputs, repaying loans, etc) and then work to budget their money.  This is a very new concept for most.  They have cash in pocket and will spend do most Americans when they get their tax returns. 



Training methods

Posted by ccraig221 on 5 Sep 2013

Thank you!  would it be possible to receive/purchase a cooy of your training approaches?  We are just starting in this area (or am I going to be embarrassed it is already online?)

training materials

Posted by KLadd on 5 Sep 2013

We are still piloting them so they are not available for public distribution yet.  Once they are I will post them.



income and messages

Posted by BKittle on 15 Sep 2013

Hi Ladd and Cay,

I am reading this conversation with interest and have just a couple of insights.

First, it is very difficult to increase incomes. There are so many variable that we don't even come close to controlling. And it takes forever. In the meantime children are still becoming malnourished. So just a couple of weeks ago while helping an NGO in Rwanda interpret their BA results and develop a BC strategy, I suggested that along side the efforts to increase income, they also help families to recognize that there are doable ways to improve nutrition right now. We wrote Bridges to Activities like:Increase the perception that even on a low income it’s possible to feed your child a varied diet every day.

My other comment is about the frequency with which we are using the word 'messages'. It's not about messages so much as about behavior change, so I wish we would start to change our language in that regard.

Increased incomes and behavior change

Posted by KLadd on 26 Sep 2013


We are actually quite succesful in value chain programs raising incomes but you are correct that we need to also use messages that they can improve their diets now.

Our "messages" are behavior change messages and we have M&E in place that does sampling of the farmers we have trained to measure adoption of the following behaviors: 

  • Taking action to diversity farm: intercropping, home garden, or animal production
  • Eating foods from all 6 food groups daily
  • Pregnant/lactating women eating extra meals
  • Exclusive breastfeeding for 0-6 months
  • Feeding children 6-23 months old protein/micronutrient-rich foods
  • Washing hands, keeping animals separate from house, or keeping home/storage area clean

The training is a cascade training so each trainer will reach 40 farmers with the messages.


Training, Income & Integrated work

Posted by yasres on 16 Sep 2013

Hi all,

This is an interesting and challenging topic. First and foremost, we all need to agree farmers need  training in all angles related with value of nutrtion as well as method of preparation.  The strategies of implmentation is also a crucial issue. Since nutrition is a result of the agricultural package, the agricultural extension worker, AEW, by working in collaboration with the health extension worker, HEW, so true with non governmental organizations, will help the program to be accepted by communities.

The need for training and strengthening collaboration are the two points to consider.


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