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Farm Production Diversity and Dietary Quality in Smallholder Farm Households

dc.contributor.advisorQaim, Matin Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorSibhatu, Kibrom Tadesse
dc.titleFarm Production Diversity and Dietary Quality in Smallholder Farm Householdsde
dc.contributor.refereeBrümmer, Bernhard Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengInvestments in agricultural modernization have resulted in remarkable progress in food production over the last century. As a consequence, the global number and the proportion of undernourished people has fallen significantly. Despite this progress, providing sufficient and nutritiously diverse food for all remains a complex global challenge. The scale of global hunger and malnutrition remains staggering: one in nine people continues to be undernourished, and nearly 30% of the world population is classified as malnourished in terms of specific nutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, the global number of overweight and obese people is also rising dramatically, including in developing countries where undernutrition is still widespread. Nutritional deficiencies and food insecurity are not only the result of low food quantities consumed, but also of poor dietary quality and diversity. In Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers are the main providers of the food supply. Paradoxically, smallholders are also the most undernourished group of people, suffering from various nutrition related problems. Nutritional deficiencies cause a large health burden and lead to significant economic losses. Given the magnitude and severity of malnutrition in many developing countries, the question how to make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-sensitive is of high relevance for research and policy. This dissertation attempts to contribute in this direction. It contains three essays. As many of the poor and undernourished people are smallholder farmers in developing countries, it is often argued that diversifying production on these smallholder farms could be a useful approach to improve dietary diversity. Yet, empirical evidence to support this argument is scarce. In the first essay, we address this issue using household-level data from Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Malawi. The data from Indonesia and Kenya refer to specific regions within these countries, where smallholder farmers grow cash crops for the market. The data from Ethiopia and Malawi are nationally representative. These four countries cover different situations in terms of farm structures, market access, culture and levels of poverty and malnutrition, so the information may provide broader conceptual and empirical lessons that go beyond case-study evidence. We calculate the number of crop and livestock species produced on a farm and dietary diversity scores as indicators of production and consumption diversities, respectively. Both measures are suitable and meaningful for international comparisons. Regression models show that on-farm production diversity is positively associated with dietary diversity in some situations, but not in all. When production diversity is already high, the association is not significant or even turns negative, because of foregone income benefits from specialization. Analysis of other factors reveals that market access has positive effects on dietary diversity, which are larger than those of increased production diversity. Market transactions also tend to reduce the role of farm diversity for household nutrition. The first essay contributes to an emerging literature that analyzes whether higher levels of farm production diversity contribute to improved dietary quality in smallholder households. Most of this work uses relatively simple indicators for production diversity and dietary quality. In the second essay, we use and compare different indicators, thus testing the robustness of earlier findings and helping to further understand the underlying linkages. The analysis builds on household survey data from Indonesia, Kenya, and Uganda. We estimate Poisson and linear regression models to analyze the relationship between production diversity and dietary quality. Farm diversity measured through a simple species count has a small positive effect on dietary quality, either expressed in terms of dietary diversity scores or micronutrient consumption levels. However, when measuring production diversity in terms of the number of food groups produced, the effect turns insignificant in most cases. Further analysis suggests that diverse subsistence production contributes less to dietary quality than cash income generated through market sales. Much of the food diversity consumed in farm households is purchased from the market. If farm diversification responds to market incentives and builds on comparative advantage, it can contribute to improved income and nutrition. This may also involve cash crop production. On the other hand, increasing the number of food groups produced on the farm independent of market incentives will foster subsistence, reduce cash incomes, and thus rather worsen dietary quality. In the third essay, we investigate the relative contribution of market purchases and home production to food availability in farm household across agricultural seasons. Issues of seasonality have hardly been addressed in previous work. We use nationally representative survey data from Ethiopia. Estimated daily per capita calorie consumption and household dietary diversity scores are used as indicators of food availability for each month over a full calendar year. We find that the farm households extensively engage in selling and buying farm products. We also find that farmers cannot secure their food needs only from what they produce on their farm; most of them are net buyers of food commodities. Although there is a tendency to shift away from purchased foods during the harvesting season, off-farm income clearly stands out as the primary economic activity to secure food in Ethiopian farm households across the different seasons. Interestingly, households with insufficient food availability rely more on own farm production as a source of food, while households with enough food rely more on market purchases. The analysis shows that the contribution of market purchases and own production varies across agroecological and geographical zones. For farmers with better infrastructure conditions, off-farm income plays a larger role to meet their food needs. Putting the findings from the three essays together, we draw important conclusions. Increasing people’s dietary quality and diversity is an important strategy to improve nutrition and health. How exactly to ensure that smallholder farmers have access to sufficient and diverse food will vary from one place to another, depending on the particular conditions. However, unlike sometimes assumed, increasing on-farm diversity does not always seem to be the most effective way to improve dietary quality in smallholder households. From a nutrition perspective, improving market access is more important than farm diversification as such. The results underline that – in most situations – home production cannot be the main or only source of food for sufficiently diverse diets, and especially not outside of the main agricultural seasons. Hence, policies should be steered towards strengthening markets and enhancing off-farm income sources for the rural poor. Additional research is needed to better understand how agriculture and food systems can be made more nutrition-sensitive and sustainable. Production diversity also has an environmental dimension, which was not analyzed
dc.contributor.coRefereeYu, Xiaohua Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.gerFarm Production Diversity, dietary diversity, food security, developing countries, nutrition, farm householdsde
dc.subject.engFarm Production Diversity, dietary diversity, food security, developing countries, nutrition, farm householdsde
dc.affiliation.instituteFakultät für Agrarwissenschaftende
dc.subject.gokfullLand- und Forstwirtschaft (PPN621302791)de

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