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Protein Production

Consumption of protein in the diet is essential for growth and maintenance of the human body and, in combination with other micronutrients, may reduce incidents of undernourishment among vulnerable populations in agrarian economies. Protein is also a key nutrient especially in the first 1000 days of life of an individual where consumption of enough protein may prevent wasting and stunting (WFP, 2015). This indicator is used to assess the potential availability of protein from an intervention at the field level. It may be aggregated to farm/household level if the units of analysis are standardized for computation. But caution should be taken in interpretation of this indicator. It provides information on the “potential availability” of protein to the household. This metric does not provide information on the impact that this intervention will have on the nutrition of the individual or household. Interpretation should be done with caution to avoid providing inaccurate or incomplete information.

How to operationalize the metric

Method of data collection and data needed to compute the method:

Data to compute this measure should come from two sources. First a survey is used to collect data on the agricultural output from using a given technology (crop or animal productivity indicator section), and then food composition tables are used to determine the amount of protein contained in a kilogram of the given product. It is important to note that the food composition tables provide data for each food product. For example, the amount of protein in maize per 100 grams will be different from that in beans per 100 grams or meat (FAO, 2017). Use of food consumption tables that are country specific (if available) may provide optimal information on the food content for that country.

Unit of analysis:

The unit for analysis for this indicator is grams of protein per hectare. Using the nutrient composition tables (FAO, 2017), the value may be calculated as (note that the value should be in grams of protein per 100g for that product);
where PC is the protein content be 100 grams of crop or product “i” and YD is the yield, in kilograms per hectare (see crop and animal productivity indicators) for given crop of animal product or by product.

Limitations regarding estimating and interpreting:

This indicator examines the potential availability of micronutrients for consumption. It does not tell us much about the impact of the intervention on nutrition of the individual, which would require observed or measured consumption. In addition, nutrition assessment is complex and requires, among other things, measurement of consumption and bioavailability, i.e., proportion of the nutrient that is absorbed or metabolized by the body through normal functions (De pee and Bloem, 2007). Bioavailability may also be affected by crop preparation and cooking practices that may limit the nutrient available that cannot be captured by this metric. Since these aspects are not observed, the indicator is a proxy of potential nutrient contribution and must be treated with caution. In cases, where the technology compared new cultivars that are biofortified, the food composition tables may not provide an accurate estimate of nutrients in that variety. The scientist may explore some laboratory tests of the composition or may ask the breeder about the composition of the new variety. In addition, once the variety is planted in different locations, the micronutrients in the output may differ due to the biophysical factors. These potential variations should be accounted for.

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