SOAS University of London

SOAS academic awarded $1m Gates Foundation Grant for project on nutritional improvement

29 November 2017

Bhavani Shankar, Professor of International Food, Agriculture and Health at SOAS University of London has been awarded a Gates Foundation Grant of nearly $1million for a project examining the impact of market interventions on nutritional improvement.

A lack of fresh, nutritious food availability in local markets is a serious problem in many low income countries. This project, Market Interventions for Nutritional Improvement (MINI), will examine a promising intervention being piloted by a NGO called Digital Green in India which aims to improve the market availability of fresh produce,

Professor Shankar said: “Low fresh fruit, vegetable and meat intake is seen in large proportions of populations in our study countries of India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia and more broadly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This affects the poorest, especially in smaller towns and villages, and is particularly acute in women and children.

“Digital Green provides a service that collects produce from participant farmers and undertakes its transport and sale at local markets. The whole operation is underpinned by digital technology – providing information and receipts to farmers via an app. Through this project we will research the potential for this pilot intervention to be improved, scaled up and introduced in new areas.”

The study focuses on India, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Professor Shankar will be the co-Principal Investigator leading the project from SOAS alongside Dr Karl M. Rich  from the International Livestock Research Institute (Vietnam) Project partners include Digital Green (India), Bangladesh Agricultural University (Bangladesh) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

The project will run from March 2018 to May 2020.