Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 47–59 | Cite as

Farm production diversity and dietary quality: linkages and measurement issues

  • Kibrom T. Sibhatu
  • Matin Qaim
Original Paper


Recent research has analyzed whether higher levels of farm production diversity contribute to improved diets in smallholder farm households. We add to this literature by using and comparing different indicators, thus helping to better understand some of the underlying linkages. The analysis builds on data from Indonesia, Kenya, and Uganda. On the consumption side, we used 7-day food recall data to calculate various dietary indicators, such as dietary diversity scores, consumed quantities of fruits and vegetables, calories and micronutrients, and measures of nutritional adequacy. On the production side, we used a simple farm species count in addition to looking at the number of different food groups produced. 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.


Dietary diversity Micronutrients Nutrition-sensitive agriculture Smallholder farm households Developing countries 



This research was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the GlobalFood Program (grant number RTG 1666) and by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) (grant number 2813FSNu01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2017_762_MOESM1_ESM.docx (112 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 112 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural DevelopmentUniversity of GoettingenGoettingenGermany

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