Nutritional Effects of Agricultural Diversification and Commercialization in Children in Zambia
Zambia and particularly the Eastern province have one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. Stunting in children is 46.7% in Zambia, and even 51.7% in Eastern Province. The most vulnerable are the children from rural households which depend entirely on seasonal agricultural production and income, and survive on diets that are deficiency in proteins and other important nutrients. Given that the expensive Zambian policy of subsidizing maize production might negatively affect the nutrition of children, there is a debate on changing policies to foster a nutrition-sensitive agriculture at farm level.
Agricultural diversification and commercialization provide alternative strategies for the rural households to improve diets; the former by yielding diverse food items for own consumption and the latter by increasing income and the household’s ability to purchase a diverse range of food items. The growing of different groups of food crops can contribute directly to a more diversified nutritional intake. At the same time, agricultural commercialization provide means of earning income that enable households to get goods and services (such as health) which become essential for sustaining their nutrition.
This analysis therefore evaluates agricultural diversification and commercialization as critical rural strategies for increasing access to nutritious foods in the eastern Province of Zambia. The article examines whether a diversified farm production significantly affects the nutritional status of children and also whether participation in agricultural markets improves their nutritional status.
The target group includes policy makers from Zambia, who want to support a nutrition-sensitive agriculture. It further includes public as well as non-govermental organizations that implement agricultural projects/programs and are in need of scientific input to estimate the nutritional effect.
The Zambian colleagues from IAPRI will be showed how to implement impact assessment methods, so that they can employ them in future studies. This is done by jointly working on the data analysis as well as in a one-day training workshop in September 2014.
A uniquely rich dataset that comprises socioeconomic, agricultural and anthropometric data of 1120 households and children is used. The data are collected by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) in collaboration with USAID. Data on agricultural production and socioeconomic characteristics of the households were collected for the agricultural marketing period from May 2010 to April 2011.
The impact of different levels of diversification and commercialization is measured by employing the generalized propensity score method, which balances the differences among farms of different intensity levels. The unbiased heterogeneous impact of different intensities of diversification and commercialization on the nutritional status of the children can then be illustrated with dose response functions.
Furthermore, econometric Tobit models will be employed to examine the influences that lead farmers to choose different levels of diversification and commercialization. The results of this analysis is expected to shed light on the driving forces as well as impediments of diversification/commercialization.
1.2014 - 3.2015