Linkages between dietary diversity and indicators of agricultural biodiversity in Burkina Faso


This paper assesses the relationships between women’s dietary diversity and various indicators of agricultural biodiversity in farms of the Hauts-Bassins, a cotton-growing region in rural western Burkina Faso. A sample of 579 farms representative of the region was surveyed at three different periods of the year. Using a qualitative 24-h dietary recall, we computed a women’s dietary diversity score (WDDS-10) based on ten food groups. We used four crop diversity indicators: crop count (CC), Simpson’s index (SI), nutritional functional diversity (NFD) and production diversity score (PDS) based on the same food groups as in the WDDS-10. We also counted the number of agroforestry tree species that provide food and the number of animal species raised. Mean WDDS-10 was low (3.4 ± 1.5 food groups) and did not vary between seasons, whereas the food groups consumed changed according to harvests. Farm production is based on cereals and cotton with low diversity (on average 2.2 ± 1.0 food groups were cultivated on each farm). Results of mixed models showed that WDDS-10 is positively associated with PDS and the number of agroforestry trees species. In this area, dietary diversity of women in farming households depends on the on-farm production of nutritionally diverse crops, partly because when a crop is produced some of it is usually consumed by the members of the farm household. In addition, WDDS-10 was found to be negatively associated with cotton production when managed by male farm heads, but positively when managed by women. Our results show that assessing the relationships between WDDS-10 and agricultural biodiversity depends on how the latter is assessed. In Burkina Faso, enhancing agricultural biodiversity, especially nutrient-dense crops and agroforestry trees, could be an appropriate way to improve dietary diversity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. 1.

    We added Bhagowalia et al. (2012); Hirvonen and Hoddinott (2017); Luna-González and Sørensen (2018); Mulmi et al. (2017); Sibhatu and Qaim (2018a) because they met the following criteria: written in English, with at least 1 metric of agricultural diversity and 1 metric of diet or nutrition outcome, and concern entire farm systems (not a specific crop or gardening).

  2. 2.

  3. 3.


  1. Adjimoti, G. O., & Kwadzo, G. T.-M. (2018). Crop diversification and household food security status: evidence from rural Benin. Agriculture & Food Security, 7(1), 82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Arsenault, J. E., Nikiema, L., Allemand, P., Ayassou, K. A., Lanou, H., Moursi, M., de Moura, F. F., & Martin-Prevel, Y. (2014). Seasonal differences in food and nutrient intakes among young children and their mothers in rural Burkina Faso. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3, e55.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bellon, M. R., Ntandou-Bouzitou, G. D., & Caracciolo, F. (2016). On-farm diversity and market participation are positively associated with dietary diversity of rural mothers in southern Benin, West Africa. PLoS One, 11(9), e0162535.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Berti, P. R. (2015). Relationship between production diversity and dietary diversity depends on how number of foods is counted. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(42), E5656–E5656.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bhagowalia, P., Kadiyala, S., & Headey, D. (2012). Agriculture, income and nutrition linkages in India: Insights from a nationally representative survey. (Technical report). Washington DC: The International Food Policy Research Institute.

  6. Blaney, S., Beaudry, M., & Latham, M. (2009). Contribution of natural resources to nutritional status in a protected area of Gabon. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 30(1), 49–62.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Boedecker, J., Termote, C., Assogbadjo, A. E., Van Damme, P., & Lachat, C. (2014). Dietary contribution of wild edible plants to women’s diets in the buffer zone around the Lama forest, Benin–an underutilized potential. Food Security, 6(6), 833–849.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bogard, J. R., Marks, G. C., Wood, S., & Thilsted, S. H. (2018). Measuring nutritional quality of agricultural production systems: Application to fish production. Global Food Security, 16, 54–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bricas, N., & Akindès, F. (2012). Afrique de l’ouest. In Dictionnaire des cultures alimentaires (Presse Universitaire de France., pp. 21–30). Paris.

  10. Carney, J., & Watts, M. (1991). Disciplining women? Rice, mechanization, and the evolution of Mandinka gender relations in Senegambia. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 16(4), 651–681.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Casanoves, F., Di Rienzo, J. A., & Pla, L. (2008). User manual FDiversity: Statistical software for the analysis of functional diversity. Argentina.

  12. Chia, E., Dugué, P., & Sakho-Jimbira, S. (2006). Les exploitations agricoles familiales sont-elles des institutions? Cahiers Agricultures, 15(6), 498–505.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Cilss. (2004). Normes de consommation des principaux produits alimentaires dans les pays du Cilss (Report) (p. 67). Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Cilss (permanent interstate committee for drought control in the Sahel).

  14. Cooper, M. W., & West, C. T. (2017). Unraveling the Sikasso paradox: agricultural change and malnutrition in Sikasso, Mali. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 56(2), 101–123.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  15. DeClerck, F. A., Fanzo, J., Palm, C., & Remans, R. (2011). Ecological approaches to human nutrition. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 32(1_suppl1), S41–S50.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Department of nutrition - Health ministry. (2012). National nutrition survey 2012. Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Development Initiatives. (2018). The Global Nutrition Report 2018: Shining a light to spur action on nutrition (pp. 52–71). Bristol, UK.

  18. Dillon, A., McGee, K., & Oseni, G. (2015). Agricultural production, dietary diversity and climate variability. The Journal of Development Studies, 51(8), 976–995.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Doss, C. (2006). The effects of intrahousehold property ownership on expenditure patterns in Ghana. Journal of African Economies, 15(1), 149–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Duflo, E., & Udry, C. (2004). Intrahousehold resource allocation in Cote d’Ivoire: Social norms, separate accounts and consumption choices (working paper no. 10498). Cambridge: National Bureau of Economic Research.

  21. Dury, S., & Bocoum, I. (2012). The Sikasso (Mali) “paradox”: why isn’t “producing more” a sufficient means for feeding the children of farmers’ families? Cahiers Agricultures, 21(5), 324–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Ecker, O., Trinh Tan, J.-F., Alpuerto, V., & Diao, X. (2012). Economic growth and agricultural diversification matters for food and nutrition security in Ghana. Discussion note. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Fanzo, J., & Mattei, F. (2012). Ensuring agriculture, biodiversity and nutrition remains central to addressing the MDG1 hunger target. In Sustainable diets and biodiversity - Directions and solutions for policy, research and action (Bioversity International., pp. 44–53). Rome, Italy: Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division - Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

  24. FAO. (2009, 2011). FAO Countrystat Data - Burkina Faso. Counstrystat - Food and Agricultural Data network. Compiled data from Continuous Agricultural Surveys.

  25. FAO, & FHI 360. (2016). Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women: A Guide for Measurement. Rome: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations).

  26. Gonder, C. E. (2011). Is subsistence enough? Examining the impact of household farm bio-diversity on dietary diversity in Bukidnon, Philippines.

  27. Herforth, Anna. (2010). Promotion of traditional African vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania: a case study of an intervention representing emerging imperatives in global nutrition (thesis). Cornell University, Ithaca, United States of America.

  28. Herforth, A., Ahmed, S., Declerck, F., Fanzo, J., & Remans, R. (2017). Creating sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets. United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition, 42, 15–22.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Herforth, A, Bai, Y., Venkat, A., Mahrt, K., Ebel, A., & Masters, W. (2020). Cost and affordability of healthy diets across and within countries. Background paper for the state of food security and nutrition in the world 2020. FAO, Rome.

  30. Hirvonen, K., & Hoddinott, J. (2017). Agricultural production and children’s diets: evidence from rural Ethiopia. Agricultural Economics, 48(4), 469–480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. HLPE. (2019). Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition. (A report by the high level panel of experts on food security and nutrition of the committee on world food security). Rome.

  32. Hoddinott, J., & Haddad, L. (1995). Does female income share influence household expenditures? Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 57(1), 77–96.

  33. Icard-Vernière, C., Ouattara, L., Avallone, S., Hounhouigan, J., Waliou, A., Polycarpe, K., et al. (2010). Traditional recipes of millet, sorghum, and maize-based dishes and related sauces frequently consumed by young children in Burkina Faso and Benin (European Project Instapa.). The Netherlands: Wageningen University Publisher.

  34. Jackson, L. E., Pascual, U., & Hodgkin, T. (2007). Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 121(3), 196–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Jones, A. D. (2015). The production diversity of subsistence farms in the Bolivian Andes is associated with the quality of child feeding practices as measured by a validated summary feeding index. Public Health Nutrition, 18(2), 329–342.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. Jones, A. D. (2016). On-farm crop species richness is associated with household diet diversity and quality in subsistence-and market-oriented farming households in Malawi–3. The Journal of Nutrition, 147(1), 86–96.

    PubMed  Article  CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 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.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  38. 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(Supplement C), 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Jones, A. D., Creed-Kanashiro, H., Zimmerer, K. S., De Haan, S., Carrasco, M., Meza, K., et al. (2018). Farm-level agricultural biodiversity in the Peruvian Andes is associated with greater odds of women achieving a minimally diverse and micronutrient adequate diet. The Journal of Nutrition, 148(10), 1625–1637.

    PubMed  Article  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Kelly, V. A., Tefft, J. F., Oehmke, J. F., & Staatz, J. M. (2004). Identifying policy relevant variables for reducing childhood malnutrition in rural Mali (Working or Discussion Paper No. 1099-2016–89459) (p. 18). Michigan State University.

  41. Kennedy, G., Nantel, G., & Shetty, P. (2003). The scourge of “hidden hunger”: global dimensions of micronutrient deficiencies. Food Nutrition and Agriculture, 32, 8–16.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Kennedy, G., Ballard, T., & Dop, M.-C. (2011). Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity (Nutrition and consumer protection division, with support from the EC/FAO food security information for action Programme and the food and nutrition technical assistance (FANTA) project.). Rome, Italy.

  43. Khoury, C. K., Bjorkman, A. D., Dempewolf, H., Ramirez-Villegas, J., Guarino, L., Jarvis, A., Rieseberg, L. H., & 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.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Koppmair, S., Kassie, M., & Qaim, M. (2017). Farm production, market access and dietary diversity in Malawi. Public Health Nutrition, 20(2), 325–335.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Lourme-Ruiz, A. (2017). Women, at the heart of linkages between agricultural production and dietary diversity in Burkina Faso. (Thesis). Montpellier Supagro-Cirad, France.

  47. Lourme-Ruiz, A., Dury, S., & Martin-Prével, Y. (2016). Do you eat what you sow? Linkages between farm production diversity, agricultural income and dietary diversity in Burkina Faso. Cahiers Agricultures, 25(6), 11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Luckett, B. G., DeClerck, F. A., Fanzo, J., Mundorf, A. R., & Rose, D. (2015). Application of the nutrition functional diversity indicator to assess food system contributions to dietary diversity and sustainable diets of Malawian households. Public Health Nutrition, 18(13), 2479–2487.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Luna-González, D. V., & Sørensen, M. (2018). Higher agrobiodiversity is associated with improved dietary diversity, but not child anthropometric status, of Mayan Achí people of Guatemala. Public Health Nutrition, 1–14.

  50. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Martin-Prevel, Y., Arimond, M., Allemand, P., Wiesmann, D., Ballard, T. J., Deitchler, M., et al. (2017). Development of a dichotomous indicator for population-level assessment of dietary diversity in women of reproductive age. Current Developments in Nutrition, 1(12), cdn-117.

  52. Meng, E., Smale, M., Bellon, M., & Grimanelli, D. (1998). Definition and measurement of crop diversity for economic analysis. In Farmers Gene Banks and Crop Breeding: Economic Analyses of Diversity in Wheat Maize and Rice (pp. 19–32). Springer.

  53. Ministry of Economy and Finance. (2006). General population and habitat census of 2006. Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Mulmi, P., Masters, W. A., Ghosh, S., Namirembe, G., Rajbhandary, R., Manohar, S., Shrestha, B., West, K. P., & Webb, P. (2017). Household food production is positively associated with dietary diversity and intake of nutrient-dense foods for older preschool children in poorer families: Results from a nationally-representative survey in Nepal. PLoS One, 12(11), 1–23.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Oyarzun, P. J., Borja, R. M., Sherwood, S., & Parra, V. (2013). Making sense of agrobiodiversity, diet, and intensification of smallholder family farming in the highland Andes of Ecuador. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 52(6), 515–541.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Petchey, O. L., & Gaston, K. J. (2002). Functional diversity (FD), species richness and community composition. Ecology Letters, 5(3), 402–411.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Powell, B., Maundu, P., Kuhnlein, H. V., & Johns, T. (2013). Wild foods from farm and forest in the east Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 52(6), 451–478.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Quisumbing, A. R., & Maluccio, J. A. (2003). Resources at marriage and intrahousehold allocation: evidence from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and South Africa. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 65(3), 283–327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Remans, R., Flynn, D. F., DeClerck, F., Diru, W., Fanzo, J., Gaynor, K., et al. (2011). Assessing nutritional diversity of cropping systems in African villages. PLoS One, 6(6), e21235.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Savy, M., Martin-Prével, Y., Traissac, P., Eymard-Duvernay, S., & Delpeuch, F. (2006). Dietary diversity scores and nutritional status of women change during the seasonal food shortage in rural Burkina Faso. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(10), 2625–2632.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Sawadogo, S., Yves, M.-P., Claire, M.-R., Alain, B., Alfred, T. S., Serge, T., & Francis, D. (2010). Late introduction and poor diversity were the main weaknesses of complementary foods in a cohort study in rural Burkina Faso. Nutrition, 26(7), 746–752.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Sibhatu, K. T., & Qaim, M. (2018a). Meta-analysis of the association between production diversity, diets, and nutrition in smallholder farm households. Food Policy, 77, 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Sibhatu, K. T., & Qaim, M. (2018b). Farm production diversity and dietary quality: linkages and measurement issues. Food Security, 10(1), 47–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 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.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Simpson, E. H. (1949). Measurement of diversity. Nature, 163(4148), 688.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Somé, J. W., & Jones, A. D. (2018). The influence of crop production and socioeconomic factors on seasonal household dietary diversity in Burkina Faso. PLoS One, 13(5), e0195685.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  67. Stadlmayr, B., Charrondiere, U. R., Enujiugha, V., Bayili, R. G., Fagbohoun, E. G., Samb, B., et al. (2012). West African food composition table. Rome, Italy: FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations).

  68. Tefft, J. F., Penders, C. L., Kelly, V. A., Staatz, J. M., Yade, M., & Wise, V. (2000). Linkages between agricultural growth and improved child nutrition in Mali (No. 1096-2016-88422).

  69. Thrupp, L. A. (2000). Linking agricultural biodiversity and food security: the valuable role of agrobiodiversity for sustainable agriculture. International Affairs, 76(2), 283–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Torheim, L., Ouattara, F., Diarra, M., Thiam, F., Barikmo, I., Hatløy, A., & Oshaug, A. (2004). Nutrient adequacy and dietary diversity in rural Mali: association and determinants. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 58(4), 594–604.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Torres, C. P. R. (2013). Sustainable diets and biodiversity: directions and solutions for policy, research and action. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society, 1(2), 131–133.

    Google Scholar 

  72. USDA. (2018). USDA food composition databases: National nutrient database for standard reference. United States of America: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, and the Food and Nutrition Information Center and Information Systems Division of the National Agricultural Library.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Verger, E. O., Ballard, T. J., Dop, M. C., & Martin-Prevel, Y. (2019). Systematic review of use and interpretation of dietary diversity indicators in nutrition-sensitive agriculture literature. Global Food Security, 20, 156–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Welch, R. M., & Graham, R. D. (1999). A new paradigm for world agriculture: meeting human needs: productive, sustainable, nutritious. Field Crops Research, 60(1), 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


Final proofreading: Emmanuelle Bouquet, Cirad (

Authors ‘contributions

Conceptualization, methodology and analysis: All authors; Investigation: Alissia Lourme-Ruiz; Writing - original draft preparation: Alissia Lourme-Ruiz; Review and editing: Sandrine Dury, Yves Martin-Prével; Funding acquisition: Sandrine Dury.


The RELAX project (N° AF 1507–329; N° FC 2015–2440, N° FDNC Engt 00063479) is funded under the « Thought for Food » initiative, by Agropolis Fondation (ANR-10-LABX-0001-01), by Fondazione Cariplo by Fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Lourme-Ruiz.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (embedded in the « Relax » programme approved by the ethic committee for health research of Burkina Faso, No 2018–7-102) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

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



Table 8 Summary of agricultural diversity indicators used in the article on linkages between agricultural diversity and farmers’ dietary diversity
Table 9 Nutrients used in the NFD indicator with their recommended dietary allowance

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lourme-Ruiz, A., Dury, S. & Martin-Prével, Y. Linkages between dietary diversity and indicators of agricultural biodiversity in Burkina Faso. Food Sec. (2021).

Download citation


  • Agricultural biodiversity
  • Crop diversity
  • Cotton
  • Dietary diversity
  • Seasonality