Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 701–720 | Cite as

Farm diversification and food and nutrition security in Bangladesh: empirical evidence from nationally representative household panel data

  • Abu Hayat Md. Saiful IslamEmail author
  • Joachim von Braun
  • Andrew L. Thorne-Lyman
  • Akhter U. Ahmed
Original Paper


Existing literature suggests that farm production diversification has the potential to influence the diet diversity of farmers, but that the magnitude of the association is likely to vary by context and the underlying causal mechanisms are not well understood. This study analyzed the nexus between farm diversification and diet diversity using two round of nationally representative panel data from the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey (BIHS), collected in 2011/12 and 2015. We used several indicators of dietary diversity including the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS), Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS), and the Food Variety Score (FVS). To measure farm diversification we used the total number of crop, vegetable and fruit species, the number of food crop species only, and the Margalef species richness index. We found robust evidence for a positive association between farm diversification and diet diversity, even when controlling for unobserved heterogeneity across households using the conditional fixed effect Poisson model in order to take advantage of the panel structure of the data. The magnitude of the estimated effect was small. Analysis of other factors indicates that market access, commercialization of farms, diversification of income towards off farm sources and women’s empowerment also have positive and significant effects on household dietary diversity. These findings suggest that it may be necessary to couple efforts to increase farm diversity, market access, farm commercialization and income diversification with women’s empowerment in order to improve dietary diversity in Bangladesh. Further research is needed to better understand these complex relationships including their ultimate associations with nutritional status.


Farm diversification Household and women’s dietary diversity score Panel data Poisson fixed effect Food and nutrition security Bangladesh 

JEL Classification

O13 Q18 D13 C33 



The IFPRI- BIHS two round panel survey data sets leading to these results has received funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Policy Research and Strategy Support Program (PRSSP). We acknowledge funding for this work received through the Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) fellowship funded by UK Aid. We want to thank Tauseef Salauddin of IFPRI and Md. Sazzadur Rahman Sarker for their help with the BIHS panel data sets. We thank Prof. Dr. Will Masters, Dr. Andrew Jones, Dr. Suneetha Kadiyala and Prof. Patrick Webb as well as the conference participants at the ANH academy week in Nepal for useful comments. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the donor or the authors’ institution.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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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.Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and PolicyTufts UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural EconomicsBangladesh Agricultural University (BAU)MymensinghBangladesh
  3. 3.Center for Development Research (ZEF), Department of Economic and Technical ChangeUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  4. 4.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Department of NutritionHarvard T. H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.International Food Policy Research InstituteDhakaBangladesh

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