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June 12th, 2017

What drives diversification of national food supplies?

Published by Global Food Security Journal,

This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security Journal sets out to systematically explore what drives the diversification of food supplies (DFS) across countries and regions, and over the course of economic development. A cross-country dataset was constructed and analyzed linking a simple DFS indicator, the share of calories supplied by nonstaple foods, with structural transformation and agroecological indicators. Results show that several indicators of structural transformation are strong predictors of diversification within countries, in particularly economic growth, urbanization and demographic change to older populations. Yet time-invariant agroecological factors are also significantly associated with diversification. This appears to explain why some countries have exceptionally low or high DFS relative to their level of economic development. For example, high levels of population density are found to be strongly negatively associated with DFS. This may be associated with lack of feed for the production of animal-sourced foods or with land constraints, which somehow inhibits diversification out of staples. These findings pose many challenges for nutrition strategies, policies, and program design, because it illustrates the difficulties of diversifying food supplies and diets in the absence of prolonged economic growth and transformation. Moreover, while there are many nutrition programs that aspire to accelerate dietary diversification, it is still unclear whether such programs can substantially and sustainably improve diets without prolonged growth in incomes.

Curated from sciencedirect.com