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The links between agricultural production and the nutritional status of children in rural Myanmar

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Abstract

This paper seeks to analyse and test empirically the relationship between household agricultural production and crop diversity on child nutritional status in rural Myanmar, using data from the nationally representative 2013 Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) survey. We are interested in analysing if higher agriculture production and greater crop diversity in the household translates into better nutritional status among children, measured using the three anthropometric measures height-for-age, weight-for-height and weight-for-age. The primary unit of analysis was the individual child aged between 7 and 60 months for whom complete information was available for all our variables of interest. We estimated a series of regression models to explain stunting, wasting and underweight outcomes among 1037 children aged 7–60 months. Our results show that: (i) 37% of the children in our sample were stunted, with stunting more prevalent among older children (aged 31–60 months), (ii) children from households where agriculture was the main income source had a lower probability of being wasted, and (iii) there was no statistically significant relationship between crop harvest size and child nutrition outcomes among agriculture households. Our results clearly suggest that agricultural own-production is important as a food safety net, mitigating acute malnutrition, but this fades away for non-acute measures, reiterating its relative unimportance in terms of the livelihood drivers of child nutrition outcomes.

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Notes

  1. Moderate and severe malnutrition defined respectively as 2 and 3 standard deviations below the reference norms for the population (UNDP 2011: 78).

  2. Since only four households achieved an agricultural diversity score of 4, these observations were combined with those with a score of 3.

  3. 25,000 Kyat is approximately $18.4 US.

  4. In the questionnaire, the harvested products were measured in baskets: e.g., beans in pod or beans without pod, corn on the cob or loose grains, etc.

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Correspondence to Anu Rammohan.

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Rammohan, A., Pritchard, B., Dibley, M. et al. The links between agricultural production and the nutritional status of children in rural Myanmar. Food Sec. 10, 1603–1614 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-018-0864-6

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