Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1463–1478 | Cite as

Does adopting legume-based cropping practices improve the food security of small-scale farm households? Panel survey evidence from Zambia

  • Christine M. SauerEmail author
  • Nicole M. Mason
  • Mywish K. Maredia
  • Rhoda Mofya-Mukuka
Original Paper


This study provides empirical evidence on whether and how integrating legumes into production systems affects measures of small-scale farm households’ food availability and access. We used nationally representative household panel survey data from Zambia to estimate the differential effects on cereal-growing households of incorporating grain legumes into their farms via cereal-legume intercropping, cereal-legume rotation, and other means (such as legume monocropping). Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that with all else equal, cereal-growing small-scale farm households that integrate grain legumes into their production systems have: (1) more availability of food as measured by total production of calories and protein; (2) more income from crop production or sales; and (3) increased food access. Results suggest that cereal-legume rotation was associated with statistically significant increases in production of calories and protein by a household as well as their gross value of crop sales; it may also improve their food access. In contrast, we found little evidence of statistically significant effects of cereal-legume intercropping and other forms of legume production on household food availability and access in Zambia.


Grain legume Crop rotation Intercropping Food security Nutrition Zambia 



This study was supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes under the terms of Cooperative Agreement No. EDH-A-00-07-00005-00, the USAID-funded Food Security Policy Innovation Lab under the contract number AID-OAA-L-13-00001 (Zambian buy-in), the USAID Mission to Zambia through grant number 611-A-00-11-00001-00, the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Michigan AgBioResearch through project number MICL02501. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and should not be attributed to USAID, the Legume Innovation Lab, the Food Security Policy Innovation Lab, USDA-NIFA, or Michigan AgBioResearch. A working paper version of this article was published in 2016 as a Research Paper for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2018_859_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Indaba Agricultural Policy Research InstituteLusakaZambia

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