Determining the costs of integrating nutrition into EAS is hampered by a lack of conclusive information about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of integrated agriculture–nutrition interventions. There is some variation in viewpoints regarding the bundle of additional resources required. There is general recognition that integrating nutrition into EAS would incur additional costs, and there is some convergence on what the main drivers of the cost increases would be. These include nutrition training for extension agents, additional skills training for extension agents, cost of demonstrations and logistics, and use of technology.
Interest in integrating nutrition into EAS stems, at least partially, from the perception that it could be an efficient, effective use of existing resources, as extension agents are already embedded within the communities. However, it is important to keep in mind that incorporating nutrition into EAS activities will require additional resources, and that these systems are generally under-funded.
- Biofortification (of tested and approved crops) serves as an accessible entry point and opportunity for the integration of nutrition into EAS. With biofortification, extension agents are dealing with staple crops that provide nutritional value. Farmers are demanding more technology and improved cultivation training, both of which can be introduced by extension agents through biofortification.
- The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to backstop and support providers of EAS is gaining in popularity, particularly among NGOs experimenting with innovative ways to deliver messages. Mobile platforms, using SMS, apps, and voice messages, have been in use for some years. Digital Green is an example of an organisation that is starting to explore the use of ICTs to deliver nutrition messages through extension agents. Radio can play a vital role in strengthening and complementing EAS nutrition messages.
- The Farmer Field School model and farmer associations can be considered an opportunity for EAS and nutrition and allow for effective delivery of nutrition-sensitive agriculture without the hindrance of some of the transport and training challenges faced by extension agents.