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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
FE models also ameliorate the potential violation of the stable unit treatment value assumption (SUTVA) (Muriithi and Matz 2015).
To save space, results are not reported here but are available upon request.
Including obesity because increase in diversified food consumption may lead to negative effects if it is concentrated in households that already consume a large amount of calories (Pellegrini and Tasciotti 2014).
Abdulai, A., & CroleRees, A. (2001). Determinants of income diversification amongst rural households in Southern Mali. Food Policy, 26(4), 437–452.
ADB (2013). Gender equality and food security—women’s empowerment as a tool against hunger. Mandaluyong City: Asian Development Bank.
Ahmed, R. (2004). Rice economy of Bangladesh: progress and prospects. Economic and Political Weekly, 39, 4043–4052.
Ahmed, T., Mahfuz, M., Ireen, S., Ahmed, A. S., Rahman, S., Islam, M. M., Alam, N., Hossain, M. I., Rahman, S. M. M., Ali, M. M., Choudhury, F. P., & Cravioto, A. (2012). Nutrition of children and women in Bangladesh: trends and directions for the future. Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition, 30(1), 1.
Ahmed, A. U., Ahmad, K., Chou, V., Hernandez, R., Menon, P., Naeem, F., Naher, F., Quabili, W., Sraboni, E., Yu, B., & Hassan, Z. (2013). The status of food security in the feed the future zone and other regions of Bangladesh: Results from the 2011–2012 Bangladesh integrated household survey, Project report submitted to the US Agency for International Development. Dhaka: International Food Policy Research Institute.
Arimond, M., & Ruel, M. T. (2004). Dietary diversity is associated with child nutritional status: evidence from 11 demographic and health surveys. The Journal of Nutrition, 134(10), 2579–2585.
Arimond, M., Wiesmann, D., Becquey, E., Carriquiry, A., Daniels, M. C., Deitchler, M., … & Torheim, L. E. (2010). Simple food group diversity indicators predict micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in 5 diverse, resource-poor settings. The Journal of Nutrition, 140(11), 2059S–2069S.
Babu, S. C., & Mthindi, G. B. (1994). Household food security and nutrition monitoring: the Malawi approach to development planning and policy interventions. Food Policy, 19(3), 272–284.
Baltagi, B. H., & Song, S. H. (2006). Unbalanced panel data: a survey. Statistical Papers, 47(4), 493–523.
Bamji, M. S. (2007). Nutrition-secure India–how do we get there? Nutrition conclave discusses the way forward. Current Science, 93, 1473–1475.
BBS. (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). (2010). Statistical year book of Bangladesh. Dhaka: Statistics Division, Ministry of Planning, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Bell, A. R., Bryan, E., Ringler, C., & Ahmed, A. (2015). Rice productivity in Bangladesh: what are the benefits of irrigation? Land Use Policy, 48, 1–12.
Belton, B., van Asseldonk, I. J. M., & Thilsted, S. H. (2014). Faltering fisheries and ascendant aquaculture: implications for food and nutrition security in Bangladesh. Food Policy, 44, 77–87.
Benjamin, D. (1992). Household composition, labor markets, and labor demand: testing for separation in agricultural household models. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society, 60(2), 287–322.
BER. (2016). Bangladesh economic review. Dhaka: Ministry of Finance, Government of the people’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Bhagowalia, P., Kadiyala, S., & Headey, D. (2012). Agriculture, income and nutrition linkages in India: Insights from a nationally representative survey, IFPRI discussion paper 01195. Washington DC: The International Food Policy Research Institute.
Bhuiyan, N. I., Paul, D. N. R., & Jabber, M. A. (2002). Feeding the extra millions. In Proceedings of the BRRI-DAE workshop on experiences of HYV rice production in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Gazipur-1701.
Burlingame, B., & Dernini, S. (2012). Sustainable diets and biodiversity: directions and solutions for policy, research and action. International scientific symposium, biodiversity and sustainable diets united against hunger, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, 3–5 November 2010. In Sustainable diets and biodiversity: Directions and solutions for policy, research and action. International scientific symposium, biodiversity and sustainable diets united against hunger, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, 3–5 November 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Cameron, A. C., & Trivedi, P. K. (1998). Regression analysis of count data. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Carletto, C., Zezza, A., & Banerjee, R. (2013). Towards better measurement of household food security: harmonizing indicators and the role of household surveys. Global Food Security, 2(1), 30–40.
Carletto, C., Corral, P., & Guelfi, A. (2017). Agricultural commercialization and nutrition revisited: empirical evidence from three African countries. Food Policy, 67, 106–118.
Crost, B., Shankar, B., Bennett, R., & Morse, S. (2007). Bias from farmer self-selection in genetically modified crop productivity estimates: evidence from Indian data. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 58(1), 24–36.
Cunningham, K., Ruel, M., Ferguson, E., & Uauy, R. (2015). Women's empowerment and child nutritional status in South Asia: a synthesis of the literature. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 11(1), 1–19.
Di Falco, S., & Chavas, J. P. (2009). On crop biodiversity, risk exposure, and food security in the highlands of Ethiopia. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 91(3), 599–611.
Dillon, A., McGee, K., & Oseni, G. (2015). Agricultural production, dietary diversity and climate variability. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 976–995.
FAO. (2013). Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity. Rome: Mimeo.
FAO. (2014). The state of food and agriculture: Innovation in family farming. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Forouzanfar, M. H., Afshin, A., Alexander, L. T., Anderson, H. R., Bhutta, Z. A., Biryukov, S., … & Cohen, A. J. (2016). Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2015. The Lancet, 388(10053), 1659–1724.
Frison, E. A., Smith, I. F., Johns, T., Cherfas, J., & Eyzaguirre, P. B. (2006). Agricultural biodiversity, nutrition, and health: making a difference to hunger and nutrition in the developing world. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 27(2), 167–179.
Gillespie, S., Harris, J., & Kadiyala, S. (2012). The agriculture-nutrition disconnect in India: What do we know? IFPRI discussion paper 01187. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.
Graham, R. D., Welch, R. M., Saunders, D. A., Ortiz-Monasterio, I., Bouis, H. E., Bonierbale, M., & Meisner, C. A. (2007). Nutritious subsistence food systems. Advances in Agronomy, 92, 1–74.
Greene, W. H. (2012). Econometric analysis (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.
Haddad, L. (2013). From nutrition plus to nutrition driven: how to realize the elusive potential of agriculture for nutrition? Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 34(1), 39–44.
Hatloy, A., Torheim, L., & Oshaug, A. (1998). Food variety-a good indicator of nutritional adequacy of the diet? A case study from an urban area in Mali, West Africa. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 52, 891–898.
Hatloy, A., Hallund, J., Diarra, M. M., & Oshaug, A. (2000). Food variety, socioeconomic status and nutritional status in urban and rural areas in Koutiala (Mali). Public Health Nutrition, 3(1), 57–65.
Hawksworth, D. L. (Ed.). (1995). Biodiversity: Measurement and estimation (Vol. 345). New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
Herforth, A. (2010). Promotion of traditional African vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania: A case study of an intervention representing emerging imperatives in global nutrition. Ithaca: Cornell University.
Herforth, A., & Harris, J. (2014). Understanding and applying primary pathways and principles. Improving Nutrition through Agriculture.
Hirvonen, K., & Hoddinott, J. (2017). Agricultural production and children's diets: evidence from rural Ethiopia. Agricultural Economics, 48(4), 469–480.
Hoddinott, J., & Yohannes, Y. (2002). Dietary diversity as a food security indicator. Food consumption and nutrition division discussion paper, 136.
Hoddinott, J., Headey, D., & Dereje, M. (2015). Cows, missing milk markets and nutrition in rural Ethiopia. Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 958–975.
Hossain, M., Naher, F., & Shahabuddin, Q. (2005). Food security and nutrition in Bangladesh: progress and determinants. Electronic Journal of Agricultural and Development Economics, 2(2), 103–132.
Jodlowski, M., Winter-Nelson, A., Baylis, K., & Goldsmith, P. D. (2016). Milk in the data: food security impacts from a livestock field experiment in Zambia. World Development, 77, 99–114.
Jones, A. D. (2017). Critical review of the emerging research evidence on agricultural biodiversity, diet diversity, and nutritional status in low-and middle-income countries. Nutrition Reviews, 75(10), 769–782.
Jones, A. D., Shrinivas, A., & Bezner-Kerr, R. (2014). Farm production diversity is associated with greater household dietary diversity in Malawi: findings from nationally representative data. Food Policy, 46, 1–12.
Jorgenson, A., & Birkholz, R. (2010). Assessing the causes of anthropogenic methane emissions in comparative perspective, 1990–2005. Ecological Economics, 69(12), 2634–2643.
Kadiyala, S., Harris, J., Headey, D., Yosef, S., & Gillespie, S. (2014). Agriculture and nutrition in India: mapping evidence to pathways. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1331(1), 43–56.
Kant, A. K. (2004). Dietary patterns and health outcomes. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(4), 615–635.
Kant, A. K., Schatzkin, A., Harris, T. B., Ziegler, R. G., & Block, G. (1993). Dietary diversity and subsequent mortality in the first national health and nutrition examination survey epidemiologic follow-up study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57(3), 434–440.
Kanter, R., Walls, H. L., Tak, M., Roberts, F., & Waage, J. (2015). A conceptual framework for understanding the impacts of agriculture and food system policies on nutrition and health. Food Security, 7(4), 767–777.
Kathage, J., & Qaim, M. (2012). Economic impacts and impact dynamics of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton in India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(29), 11652–11656.
Keding, G. B., Msuya, J. M., Maass, B. L., & Krawinkel, M. B. (2012). Relating dietary diversity and food variety scores to vegetable production and socio-economic status of women in rural Tanzania. Food Security, 4(1), 129–140.
Kennedy, G., Ballard, T., & Dop, M. C. (2013). Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i1983e/i1983e00.pdf.
Khoury, C. K., Bjorkman, A. D., Dempewolf, H., Ramirez-Villegas, J., Guarino, L., Jarvis, A., … & Struik, P. C. (2014). Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(11), 4001–4006.
Koppmair, S., Kassie, M., & Qaim, M. (2016). Farm production, market access and dietary diversity in Malawi. Public Health Nutrition, 20(2), 325–335.
Kouser, S., & Qaim, M. (2011). Impact of Bt cotton on pesticide poisoning in smallholder agriculture: a panel data analysis. Ecological Economics, 70(11), 2105–2113.
Kumar, N., Harris, J., & Rawat, R. (2015). If they grow it, will they eat and grow? Evidence from Zambia on agricultural diversity and child undernutrition. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 1060–1077.
Malapit, H. J. L., & Quisumbing, A. R. (2015). What dimensions of women’s empowerment in agriculture matter for nutrition in Ghana? Food Policy, 52, 54–63.
Malapit, H. J. L., Kadiyala, S., Quisumbing, A. R., Cunningham, K., & Tyagi, P. (2015). Women’s empowerment mitigates the negative effects of low production diversity on maternal and child nutrition in Nepal. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 1097–1123.
Meeker, J., & Haddad, L. (2013). A state of the art review of agriculture-nutrition linkages. Institute of development studies report.
Minten, B., Murshid, K. A. S., & Reardon, T. (2013). Food quality changes and implications: evidence from the rice value chain of Bangladesh. World Development, 42, 100–113.
Mottaleb, K. A., Rahut, D. B., & Kruseman, G. (2017). Wheat production and consumption dynamics in an Asian rice economy: the Bangladesh case. The European Journal of Development Research. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-017-0096-1.
Moursi, M. M., Arimond, M., Dewey, K. G., Trèche, S., Ruel, M. T., & Delpeuch, F. (2008). Dietary diversity is a good predictor of the micronutrient density of the diet of 6-to 23-month-old children in Madagascar. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(12), 2448–2453.
Muriithi, B. W., & Matz, J. A. (2015). Welfare effects of vegetable commercialization: evidence from smallholder producers in Kenya. Food Policy, 50, 80–91.
Olney, D. K., Talukder, A., Iannotti, L. L., Ruel, M. T., & Quinn, V. (2009). Assessing impact and impact pathways of a homestead food production program on household and child nutrition in Cambodia. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 30(4), 355–369.
Osmani, S. R., Ahmed, A., Ahmed, T., Hossain, N., Huq, S., & Shahan, A. (2016). Strategic review of food security and nutrition in Bangladesh. An independent review commissioned by the World Food Programme (WFP). Dhaka: WFP.
Pellegrini, L., & Tasciotti, L. (2014). Crop diversification, dietary diversity and agricultural income: empirical evidence from eight developing countries. Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienne d'études du développement, 35(2), 211–227.
Powell, B., Haraksingh Thilstead, S., Ickowitz, A., Termote, C., Sunderland, T., & Herforth, A. (2015). Improving diets with wild and cultivated bioversity from across the landscape. Food Security, 7, 535–554.
Rah, J. H., Akhter, N., Semba, R. D., De Pee, S., Bloem, M. W., Campbell, A. A., … & Kraemer, K. (2010). Low dietary diversity is a predictor of child stunting in rural Bangladesh. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(12), 1393–1398.
Rahman, S. (2009). Whether crop diversification is a desired strategy for agricultural growth in Bangladesh? Food Policy, 34(4), 340–349.
Rahman, S. (2010). Women’s labour contribution to productivity and efficiency in agriculture: empirical evidence from Bangladesh. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 61(2), 318–342.
Rahman, S., & Salim, R. (2013). Six decades of total factor productivity change and sources of growth in Bangladesh agriculture (1948–2008). Journal of Agricultural Economics, 64(2), 275–294.
Rashid, D. A., Smith, L. C., & Rahman, T. (2011). Determinants of dietary quality: evidence from Bangladesh. World Development, 39(12), 2221–2231.
Remans, R., Flynn, D. F., DeClerck, F., Diru, W., Fanzo, J., Gaynor, K., Lambrecht, I., Mudiope, J., Mutuo, P. K., Nkhoma, P., & Siriri, D. (2011). Assessing nutritional diversity of cropping systems in African villages. PLoS One, 6(6), e21235.
Romeo, A., Meerman, J., Demeke, M., Scognamillo, A., & Asfaw, S. (2016). Linking farm diversification to household diet diversification: evidence from a sample of Kenyan ultra-poor farmers. Food Security, 8(6), 1069–1085.
Rose, D., Meershoek, S., Ismael, C., & McEwan, M. (2002). Evaluation of a rapid field tool for assessing household diet quality in Mozambique. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 23(2), 181–189.
Ruel, M. T. (2003). Operationalizing dietary diversity: a review of measurement issues and research priorities. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(11), 3911S–3926S.
Ruel, M. T., & Menon, P. (2002). Child feeding practices are associated with child nutritional status in Latin America: innovative uses of the demographic and health surveys. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(6), 1180–1187.
Ruel, M., Alderman, H., & Maternal, Child Nutrition Study Group. (2013a). Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition. The Lancet, 382(9891), 536–551.
Ruel, M. T., Harris, J., & Cunningham, K. (2013b). Diet quality in developing countries. In V. R. Preedy, L. Hunter, & V. Patel (Eds.), Diet quality (pp. 239–261). New York: Springer.
Ruel, M. T., Harris, J. E., & Cunningham, K. (2014). Measuring dietary quality in developing countries: A review of the usefulness of individual dietary diversity indicators. In V. R. Preedy (Ed.), Diet quality: An evidence-based approach (pp. 239–261). New York: Springer.
Schreinemachers, P., Patalagsa, M. A., Islam, M. R., Uddin, M. N., Ahmad, S., Biswas, S. C., Ahmed, M. T., Yang, R. Y., Hanson, P., Begum, S., & Takagi, C. (2015). The effect of women’s home gardens on vegetable production and consumption in Bangladesh. Food Security, 7(1), 97–107.
Schreinemachers, P., Patalagsa, M. A., & Uddin, N. (2016). Impact and cost-effectiveness of women's training in home gardening and nutrition in Bangladesh. Journal of Development Effectiveness, 8(4), 473–488.
Seymour, G. (2017). Women's empowerment in agriculture: implications for technical efficiency in rural Bangladesh. Agricultural Economics, 48(4), 513–522.
Shively, G., & Sununtnasuk, C. (2015). Agricultural diversity and child stunting in Nepal. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 1078–1096.
Sibhatu, K. T., Krishna, V. V., & Qaim, M. (2015). Production diversity and dietary diversity in smallholder farm households. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(34), 10657–10662.
Smale, M., Hartell, J., Heisey, P. W., & Senauer, B. (1998). The contribution of genetic resources and diversity to wheat production in the Punjab of Pakistan. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 80(3), 482–493.
Snapp, S. S., & Fisher, M. (2015). “Filling the maize basket” supports crop diversity and quality of household diet in Malawi. Food Security, 7(1), 83–96.
Sraboni, E., Malapit, H. J., Quisumbing, A. R., & Ahmed, A. U. (2014). Women’s empowerment in agriculture: what role for food security in Bangladesh? World Development, 61, 11–52.
Steyn, N. P., Nel, J. H., Nantel, G., Kennedy, G., & Labadarios, D. (2006). Food variety and dietary diversity scores in children: are they good indicators of dietary adequacy? Public Health Nutrition, 9(5), 644–650.
Swindale, A., & Bilinsky, P. (2006). Household dietary diversity score (HDDS) for measurement of household food access: indicator guide. Washington, DC: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project, Academy for Educational Development.
Tarini, A., Bakari, S., & Delisle, H. (1999). The overall nutritional quality of the diet is reflected in the growth of Nigerian children. Santé (Montrouge, France), 9(1), 23–31.
Taylor, J. E., & Adelman, I. (2003). Agricultural household models: genesis, evolution, and extensions. Review of Economics of the Household, 1(1), 33–58.
Thorne-Lyman, A. L., Valpiani, N., Sun, K., Semba, R. D., Klotz, C. L., Kraemer, K., … & Bloem, M. W. (2009). Household dietary diversity and food expenditures are closely linked in Rural Bangladesh, increasing the risk of malnutrition due to the financial crisis. The Journal of Nutrition, 140(1), 182S–188S.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (2010). Bangladesh grain and feed annual, 2010. Washington, DC: USDA.
Villa, K. M., Barrett, C. B., & Just, D. R. (2011). Whose fast and whose feast? Intrahousehold asymmetries in dietary diversity response among East African pastoralists. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 93(4), 1062–1081.
Von Braun, J. (1995). Agricultural commercialization: impacts on income and nutrition and implications for policy. Food Policy, 20(3), 187–202.
Webb, P. (2013). Impact pathways from agricultural research to improved nutrition and health: Literature analysis and research priorities. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.
World Bank. (2007). From agriculture to nutrition: Path- ways, synergies and outcomes. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Yosef, S., Jones, A. D., Chakraborty, B., & Gillespie, S. (2015). Agriculture and nutrition in Bangladesh: mapping evidence to pathways. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), 387–404.
Zezza, A., & Tasciotti, L. (2010). Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries. Food Policy, 35(4), 265–273.
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.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Islam, A.H.M.S., von Braun, J., Thorne-Lyman, A.L. et al. Farm diversification and food and nutrition security in Bangladesh: empirical evidence from nationally representative household panel data. Food Sec. 10, 701–720 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-018-0806-3
- Farm diversification
- Household and women’s dietary diversity score
- Panel data
- Poisson fixed effect
- Food and nutrition security