Agricultural production diversity, dietary diversity and nutritional status: Panel data evidence from Tanzania

Peer Reviewed
1 January 2020

Household agricultural production for self-consumption is often highlighted by nutritionists as the main route to increasing household food security and nutritional status, especially for the poor in developing countries. At the same time, the income gains from specializing in fewer crops and selling the surplus product could be an alternate route to improved nutritional status. We use Tanzanian data to study linkages between the diversity and market orientation of a household’s agricultural production, the quality and diversity of their diets, and the nutritional status of their children. We find that diversifying a household’s agricultural production significantly increases diversity in that household’s diet, but the positive nutritional effects are small. We also find that market orientation has no clear effect on dietary diversity. At the same time, however, the nutritional status of children is not found to be linked clearly to general dietary diversity. On the other hand, factors such as education and overall income have strong and significant effects on both household dietary diversity and child nutrition. Thus, policies for increasing the quality of children’s diets, improving children’s nutritional status and enhancing the overall dietary diversity of farm households should incorporate those factors.

Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 13 January 2020