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Training of various levels of functionaries for community nutrition programmes was an important tool in implementing and promoting the nutrition programme.

4.1. Capacity building through training

Three types of training courses were designed and offered to develop a critical mass of human resources to be both trainers and practitioners. Training of Trainer (TOT) courses on food-based nutrition strategies were conducted for DAE officers like HDTC in-charges, horticulture subject matter specialists (SMSs), Upazila Agriculture Officers (UAOs), Agriculture Extension Officers (AEOs) and instructors of Agricultural Training Institutes (ATIs). In-service training courses on nutrition and food processing were offered to Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers (SAAOs), Horticulture Overseers (HOs) and NGO officials.

While focusing on key food-based nutrition topics, the training aimed to sensitize HDTC and block-level officers to the use of horticultural food-based strategies for addressing malnutrition and promote appropriate dietary use of home grown horticultural produce among farmers.

In particular, technical inputs for horticulture-based food preparation and household-level processing were given through practical training at the HDTCs as well as in the field. Gaps identified in understanding practical food-based solutions to nutrition problems were also addressed during the training. This helped to update and build upon their nutrition knowledge and skills, which would enable them to appropriately implement the nutrition programme in the field.

Table 2. Nutrition training for various levels of functionaries

Training course


Main objective

Food-based nutrition strategies

HDTC officers,
Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers, SMS, SMO

Sensitization on food-based strategies to address malnutrition and promote appropriate dietary use of locally available/ home-grown horticultural produce.

Food-based nutrition strategies Schoolteachers

Strengthen and provide updates on nutrition throughout the life span and promote food-based activities using horticultural produce and other foods to increase vegetable and fruit consumption among adolescent girls; promote simple household-level food preparation and processing techniques for nutrition and food security.

Nutrition and household food processing

Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers, Horticulture Overseers

Increase nutritional awareness and promote food-based activities using horticultural produce to reduce malnutrition; promote simple household-level food processing techniques for long-term use and nutrition.

Community child caring; use of horticultural, complementary food

Women farmers

Provide complementary feeding guidelines and prepare horticulture-based complementary food.

Family health and nutrition

Women farmers

Give basic information on importance of a balanced diet along with use of horticultural crops; demonstrate correct cooking methods to reduce nutrient losses, appropriate food combinations for improved nutritive value, and personal and food hygiene practices.

Nutrition curricula were developed for courses for all three levels of functionaries including HDTC officers, Subject Matter Specialists in horticulture, SAAOs and HOs (see Table 2). This was done by the project’s National Nutrition Education Specialist in collaboration with other National Experts and in close partnership with BANHRDB, a nodal nutrition training institution of the DAE. One TOT for HDTC officers and two in-service training programmes were conducted (see Table 3).

Table 3. Training coverage for district level officials

Target group

TOT on food-based nutrition strategies

In-service training on food processing and nutrition

Horticulturist, Assistant Horticulturist, Horticulture Development Officer, Assistant Horticulture Development Officer, Agriculture Officer, Subject Matter Specialist, Crop Protection Specialist, etc.


Sub Assistant Agriculture Officers, Horticulture Overseers


Total 118


Grand total


Nutrition training courses were provided to men and women farmers under the project as well as NGO women farmers. Overseas study tours were also organized for DAE officials and women farmers, besides in-country study tours for farmers, farmers’ rallies, field day, exhibitions, workshops and seminars. A total of 8 390 farmers were trained in various nutrition courses (Figure 2).

Mangement of Tropical Sandy Soil for Sustainable Agriculture

Figure 2. Farmers training in nutrition

4.2. Participatory nutrition activity (PNA)

Participatory nutrition activities (PNA) activities were organized to assess the effectiveness and impact of the Nutrition Education Programme in promoting nutrition awareness and correct nutritional behaviour. The main PNA outcome was mobilization of farmers for independent initiatives to improve their food and dietary pattern and enhance consumption of vegetables and fruits (Box 1).

Box 1. PNA strategies with the farmers

  • Bringing farmers together in an interactive discussion.
  • Reviewing responses on knowledge gained through training and demonstrations.
  • Eliciting farmers’ views and ideas on the importance of horticultural food.
  • Farmers’ concept of food groups, cooking methods and preparation.
  • Conduct of field-level games and cooking competitions.

Some responses and outcomes related to the PNA are given in Table 4. The two games used with the group included: (a) food vocabulary and (b) food sorting. Farmers too interest and participated actively in the games, grouping food types according to combinations habitually used in home recipes. These included rice and pulse for khichuri, puffed rice and jaggery for breakfast, spinach and potato in shak bhaji, sweet pumpkin and onion for bhaji, tomato and cucumber as salad.

This was used as the basis for working out a variety of nutritious food combinations which were discussed with the group. This contributed to their understanding of correct food groupings that ensure dietary diversity and improve nutritional quality. For example, a combination of spinach, pulse or fish, potato and tomato was suggested to prepare bhaji instead of using only spinach and potato. The farmers also cited various examples, generating a wide choice of culturally suitable food combinations for nutritious recipes.

Hands-on-explorer (locally available) methods used to facilitate the demonstrations show encouraging results. Brain-storming sessions with women farmers on the use of common leafy vegetables and habitual food combinations, basic questions on handling, preparation and cooking of vegetables, reveal big gains in nutritional knowledge. All the women now reportedly wash vegetables thoroughly before cutting to prevent loss of vitamins. The women pointed out that they were using many project recipes and had increased consumption of vegetables since joining project activities.

Table 4. Game on fruits and vegetables


Reason for listing

Discussion points


Reason for preference

Discussion points


Grown in home garden (HG), popular in diet; vitamin A-rich

Rich source of vitamin A

Sweet pumpkin

Like it, popular in diet

All yellow and orange coloured vegetables are a good source of vitamin A

Blackberry Available

Good source of vitamin C, and minerals like iron

Ridge gourd

Like it, available in summer

Adds bulk and variety to diet, used in “mixed vegetable soup” shown in food preparation demonstration

Mango Grown in HG

Good source of vitamin A

Lau shak (gourd)

Seasonal availability and grown in HG; fruit and leaves used to make food; tender bottle gourd peels used for bhaji and chutneys; combined with fish, potato, onion and other ingredients

Rich in iron, vitamin A; good for eyesight


Like it and a good fruit

Not grown, have to buy; nutrition returns not commensurate with money spent


Like it, available in winter

Provides bulk, variety, minerals and vitamins

Litchi Grown   Cabbage

Eaten in season

Good source of vitamin A, fresh cabbage has vitamin C

Banana Available

Good source of energy

Lal shak (local green)

Grown in HG, popular in diet

Good source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and folic acid (good for blood building)

Guava Grown in HG

Vitamin C-rich; preferred to apple

Data shak

(stem amaranth)
Prepare dish

Good source of minerals and vitamins

Grapes Good fruit

Vitamin C-rich, but not grown in HG nor easily available


(local vegetable)

Not prepared often

Gives variety and bulk

Oranges Good fruit

Good source of vitamin C, have to buy

Palang shak (spinach)

Eat often

Good source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and folic acid (good for blood building)

Coconut Know about it   Field beans Eat in season

Gives some protein, used in many recipes, including soup

Kamranga (Star fruit)

Grown in HG

Good source of vitamin C

Kolmi shak (local green)

Eat occasionally

Good source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and folic acid (good for blood building)

Atapal (custard apple)

Know about it

Good source of vitamins and minerals

Kochu shak (local green)

Eat as bhorta (steamed or broiled,

mashed, spiced preparation)

Excellent source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and folic acid (good for blood building)

Pomegranate Know about it

Good source of vitamins and minerals

Drumstick leaves

Know about it

Excellent source of vitamin A, iron, calcium and folic acid (good for blood building)

Nashpati (Pear)

Know about it

Good source of vitamins and minerals


Eat in season, added to dal in winter

Good source of vitamin C and has some vitamin A


Grows in Bangladesh

Good source of vitamin C

Anaaras (pineapple)

Know about it

Good source of vitamins and minerals

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