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August 25th, 2016

Market access and farm household dietary diversity

Published by Rural21,

In this article (PDF) in Rural21 country comparisons reveal that dietary diversity is higher in situations with more commercialized agriculture than in subsistence-oriented settings. This suggests that specialization and low on-farm production diversity are not necessarily associated with lower dietary diversity, when diverse types of foods can be purchased from the market. The results show that production diversity has a positive but marginal effect on dietary diversity. However, selling farm produce significantly improves dietary quality, as the cash income generated allows households to purchase diverse foods from the market throughout the year. The article also shows that the average effect of commercial sales on household dietary diversity is five times stronger than that of producing one additional crop or livestock species on the farm. The article concludes that the common assumption that higher farm production diversity is always conducive to household nutrition needs adjustment. The most suitable policy mix to improve nutrition in smallholder farm households will vary from case to case. In many situations, facilitating market access through improved infrastructure and other policies to reduce transaction costs and price distortions seems to be more promising than promoting further production diversification as such.

Curated from rural21.com