Crosscutting themes

Three issues cut across our research themes. These are gender and nutrition, innovation systems and fragility.

Photo credit: Asad Zaidi/Flickr

Gender and Nutrition

Women are key actors within the food system, but are chronically disempowered in some parts of the region. Women’s lack of power in South Asia weakens the links between agriculture and nutrition. Gender is a cross-cutting issue in the context of agriculture, so we have addressed it explicitly in several of our studies, and across all our main research themes. For LANSA to make agriculture and nutrition work, Gender must be at the very core. Read Nitya's blog to know more. 

Here Nitya RaoLANSA's gender expert, explains why gender is a critical factor when considering the links between agriculture and nutrition

Innovation Systems

New ideas and technologies are frequently introduced to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food security. However, for them to be widely used, a range of actors – individuals, organisations and networks – must contribute to their further refinement, adaptation and diffusion. These actors, linked by more or less formalised relationships, and working towards a common purpose that requires innovation by farmers, and those who support them and trade with them, are known as an “innovation system”. As part of its enabling environment research theme, LANSA will undertake a landscaping study of dynamic agricultural innovation systems that have the potential to converge on nutrition-relevant themes. This review will be used to inform the design of studies and interventions under LANSA’s research themes agri-food policies and markets and nutritionsensitive agriculture respectively.


Many of the food systems in the region are located in fragile contexts. Fragility results from natural disasters and environmental stresses in the region. Constraints arising out of the political economy and limitations to state capacity can also cause instability. Political economy limitations to state capacity will be an important aspect of the landscape analyses being conducted as part of our enabling environment research and agri-food policies and markets research.

Differences across the region

The South Asian countries in this research programme share several common features such as: they are mainly agrarian based economies, and they have low agricultural productivity, high levels of food and nutrition insecurity, low women’s empowerment and environmental fragility. However, the nature, dimensions and intensity of these features differ significantly across countries and indeed, within countries. For example, while women’s status in South Asia is moderate to low, women’s rights movements are far more advanced in India and Bangladesh, than in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Inadequate representation of certain social groups such as Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes is a key concern in India. 

While fragility is indeed a cross-cutting issue, political economy limitations to state capacity are far more pressing in Pakistan and Afghanistan than in India and Bangladesh. The institutional arrangements to address undernutrition also vary widely across countries (and across provinces and states within countries). 

South Asia Focus

Funded by UK DFID

This research has been funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK Government’s official policies



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