Nutrition and Food Security in Uplands of Vietnam and Thailand
Malnutrition remains a serious problem in both Vietnam and Thailand, particularly in the uplands, home to most of the ethnic minorities. These communities are undergoing rapid social and economic changes. Direct impacts on small-scale farms are leading to losses in food production and disruption to the food chain. Once abundant in food, many of the are now classified as "food insecure" with high levels of malnutrition. There is a need for research that identifies agricultural practices that can improve dietary diversity, nutrition, and health-particularly for women and children-in a sustainable manner. The goal of this three-year research project is to identify local, practical, and affordable agriculture solutions to improve food security and nutrition among smallholder farmers in upland communities. The research will be implemented across three sites (northern Thailand and central and northern Vietnam) through a collaborative research partnership between HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, Hanoi Agriculture University, Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, and Chiang Mai University. The study will employ multiple research methods, including household surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions, to identify promising intervention options. It will test affordable and sustainable solutions to improve the diet and health of participating households. Research results will be used to help strengthen the basis for policy recommendations related to natural resource management, agriculture, nutrition, and health to support sustainable food supply and nutrition for smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia's upland communities. The research team will aim to achieve the following: -characterize the nutritional situation, nutrition practices, knowledge, and food consumption patterns in participating upland communities; -identify local farming practices and potential practices that can be tested as nutrition-sensitive agricultural solutions; -analyze the relationships between food production, availability, consumption, and the conditioning factors-including gender dynamics, market infrastructure, and natural resources-which limit or promote healthy diets; -develop and test affordable and sustainable agriculture practices that improve nutrition and food security; and, -engage multiple stakeholders to promote learning and understanding, and to ensure broad adoption of solutions.