Farm production diversity and dietary quality: Linkages and measurement issues
This research in the Food Security journal analysed whether higher levels of farm production diversity contribute to improved diets in smallholder farm households. Different indicators are used and compared to better understand the underlying linkages. Results of regression models showed that production diversity measured through simple species count is positively associated with most dietary indicators. However, when measuring production diversity in terms of the number of food groups produced, the association turns insignificant in many cases. Further analysis revealed that diverse subsistence production often contributes less to dietary diversity than cash income generated through market sales. If farm diversification responds to market incentives and builds on comparative advantage, it can contribute to improved income and nutrition. Yet, increasing the number of food groups produced on the farm independent of market incentives may foster subsistence, reduce income, and thus rather worsen dietary quality. The results suggest that improving the functioning of agricultural markets and smallholder market access are key strategies to enhance nutrition.