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Socio-economics and Governance

THEME: Socio-economics and Governance

Theme leader: Sonia Laszlo (McGill)


Subproject: Producer and Consumer Household Surveys

Subproject coordinator: Sonia Laszlo (McGill)

Consumer access to safe and nutritious food must be evaluated in the context of socioeconomic and behavioral factors that determine dietary choices. This subproject provides the framework for: a) evaluating and understanding the impact of project interventions to improve nutrition outcomes among school children; b) bridging the food consumption and food production components of the project; c) assessing market constraints to production and consumption of safe and nutritious foods.  

  • Two types of household surveys(to include “baseline and endpoint” surveys)will be undertaken in order to understand and assess food security issues among farmers and consumers; these surveys will assist  in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and will form the basis of rigorous scientific analysis of socio-economic dimensions of the project interventions.
  • The Consumer Health and Nutrition Household Surveys (CHNHS) will be undertaken in St Kitts-Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago to support and evaluate the nutrition interventions in primary schools.
  • The focus of the CHNHS will be to gather socio-economic, demographic, and food expenditures data to inform on healthy food choices of primary school-aged children and their households. Data from the CHNHS will include anthropometrics, biometrics and 24-hour dietary recall.
  • The Producer Household Surveys (PHS), to be undertaken in all four countries, will focus on food production among small-holder farmers.
  • The PHS will evaluate local food production systems, agricultural technology adoption, and access to markets (including food markets).
  • In both surveys, special attention is placed on the gender dimensions of food consumption and production.

Subproject: Focus groups and Economics experiments

Subproject coordinator: Sonia Laszlo (McGill)

  • Qualitative information will be gathered through focus groups and key informant interviews.  Focus groups will study three important aspects of the project:  a) agricultural technology and market structures; b) food consumption behaviour; c) gender issues and decision making. 
  • The focus groups are designed to include all key stakeholders, especially farmers and women’s groups.  This technique ensures the “user-participatory approach” of the project, and provides the opportunity for feedback from stake-holders to project researchers and partners.
  • Economic experiments are planned to inform on the behavioural determinants of food consumption and technology adoption production.
  • Such experiments (to be conducted in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Peru) will allow researchers to better understand economic decision-making in ways that test the relevance and pertinence of certain economic theories.

Subproject: Food Safety, Post harvest Quality and Losses

Subproject coordinators: Inteaz Alli and Michael Ngadi (McGill)

A vital component of food security is the provision of safe and high quality food. In the Caribbean, food spoilage due to postharvest losses can be up to 40% (by weight) but there are no objective data or formal practices devoted to minimizing these losses. Thus, development of techniques to minimize post harvest losses and minimize hazardous contamination of food is critical not only for nutrition and health but also for marketing of farm produce. 

  • Based on international standards, food safety and quality guidelines and checklists will be developed to monitor pre and postharvest practices for farming fresh produce; these tools will be utilized to evaluate the influence of improved handling practices.
  • The distribution chain and postharvest handling practices for fresh produce will be characterized in each country under study
  • Post harvest quality and loses will be quantified, and practices and appropriate technologies would be introduced to minimize loss of quality, nutritional value and spoilage of farm produce

Subproject: Knowledge Integration for Food Policy makers 

Subproject coordinator: Gordon Hickey (McGill)

This research stream will examine the existing relationships among government and regional institutional food security policies in order to: 

  • Better understand how the project research findings can integrate with food and nutrition management activities to improve food security;
  • Identify critical information pathways that will enhance the adoption and application of different technologies in the food security strategies of government. 
  • Data collected from institutional, survey and key-informant sources will be utilized to explore how research findings generated within the broader project can best impact operational food security strategies for a wide range of end users.