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June 2016
Updates from HarvestChoice 
HarvestChoice generates multi-dimensional spatial data and analytic products, from geospatial datasets and maps to priority setting tools and analytics, for strategic agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa and globally. Socio-economic and biophysical datasets are harmonized and interoperable, and freely available to the public. Explore our data and share your stories with the world. It's all there at www.HarvestChoice.org.
Digging Deeper
It takes millennia to develop fertile soils, yet we are losing 75 billion tons of soil globally each year, according to a chapter by HarvestChoice et al. in the 2016 Global Food Policy Report. The impacts hurt not only poor farmers, but reach well beyond the farm. Healthy soils support agricultural productivity, food security, climate change mitigation and resilience, and a range of ecosystem services. Authors offer a promising roadmap for improving soils and sustainable land management through whole-system approaches such as sustainable intensification, climate-smart agriculture, payment of ecosystem services, and the integration of perennial-based agriculture. 
Freedom in Numbers
“If you love something set it free,” goes the old saying. To reach a wider audience, HarvestChoice and Africa RISING have been publishing data layers on IFPRI Dataverse, an open-source data exchange, and the indicators are diverse as they are piled high. Data include global crop statistics from the Spatial Production Allocation Model, the core of our geospatial data holdings called the CELL5Mand household and community data collected from Ethiopia, Malawi, Ghana, Mali, and Tanzania via the Africa RISING Baseline Evaluation Survey. Surveys capture detailed information on, for example, household composition and health, income and expenditures, credit and assets, welfare and food security, shocks, children and women anthropometry, and community-level characteristics. Moreover, data are harmonized so that domain analyses are possible across indicators and natioal borders. 
A New Data Paradigm
Otto et al. (2015) highlight a scalar data divide between natural and social sciences, highlighting the need for subnational socio-economic datasets and a “new paradigm in data gathering”. Such datasets allow researchers to analyze spatial relationships between populations and their environment across relevant geographical domains, regardless of national borders. However, as HarvestChoice researchers illustrate in the journal Nature Climate Change, “the paradigm shift is alive and kicking already.” Spatially-explicit and harmonized socio-economic data products are increasingly available to the public, such as population and poverty grids, microdata derived from national household surveys, and rasterized socio-demographic indicators. While the economic literature often overlooks these products, they are well suited, for example, to the study of climate’s impact on human geography.
Reaping on-Farm Diversity 
The relationship between nutrition and agriculture is still largely a mystery in sub-Saharan Africa. Do increases in on-farm diversity and crop productivity tend to result in healthier households? Our Africa RISING team is exploring this question among farm households in rural northern Ghana, particularly in areas with difficult access to food markets. The analysis exploits baseline data collected from Africa RISING and combines an instrumental variable approach with propensity score weighting. Results show that both diversity and productivity positively affected dietary quality of regional households. Disaggregated by sex, women exhibited stronger preference for a diversified diet. The effects on nutritional outcomes, however, was inversely related to market access. Consumers with better market access are presumably less dependent on household-sourced farming for their diet.

*Join the Brown Bag Seminar at IFPRI headquarters on June 27, 2016 (12:30-2:00 EDT) or stream live via
GoToMeeting.
Resilience in the Horn 
Variability in crop and pasture, whether caused by drought, flood, disease, or conflict, is arguably the greatest threat to food security and human resilience in the Horn of Africa. Over the last four years, HarvestChoice and the CGIAR Technical Consortium for Building Resilience in the Horn of Africa have engaged in research focusing on analytics, metrics, and appropriate data to enhance resilience of vulnerable populations in the region. A series of technical reports captures nuances in the Horn’s capacity to absorb, adapt, mitigate, and recover from shocks and stressors; nuances that may depend on social capital, asset ownership, psycho-social factors, and livelihood diversity, to name a few. This marks the beginning of a growing community of practice in terms of our understanding of resilience and theories of change, how to measure it, and strengthening the evidence base for building resilience capacity in the Horn.
Visualize and Explore open data at HarvestChoice 
and Share your stories with the world.
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