Agricultural production and children’s diets: Evidence from rural Ethiopia


Chronic undernutrition is widespread in rural Ethiopia and many children eat monotonous, undiversified diets. This study examines the relationship between the diversity of pre-school children’s food consumption and the diversity of household agricultural production. A large cross-sectional household survey was conducted between June and July 2013 in five regions of rural Ethiopia: Amhara, Oromiya, SNNPR1, Somali, and Tigray. A total of 7,011 households in 252 villages in 84 woredas, were surveyed, with a total of 4,214 children aged 6 to 71 months in the sample. Data collected was on anthropometry (age, sex, maternal education), GPS coordinates of household location, children’s diets and agricultural production. Diet was assessed by asking the mothers about foods consumed by the children, and the answers grouped into seven categories: Grains, roots and tubers; Legumes and nuts; Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese); Flesh foods (meat, poultry and fish products); Eggs; Vitamin A rich fruits and vegetables; and Other fruits and vegetables. Food production data covered 80 different items. The purpose of the survey was to obtain pre-intervention (baseline) information in localities that were to receive investments to improve agricultural production and nutrition under the Feed the Future (FtF) program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or in localities that were to act as comparison sites for the evaluation of FtF. The results showed that increased household production diversity leads to considerable improvements in children’s diet diversity. Household production and consumption decisions are thus non-separable, and the authors suggest this is due to poor market integration in rural Ethiopia: most households in the sample live far away from markets where they can buy and sell food products. However, the study also documents how this non-separability of consumption and production does not hold for households that do have access to food markets.


Hirvonen, K.; Hoddinott, J. Agricultural production and children’s diets: Evidence from rural Ethiopia. (2014) : 17 pp. [Ethiopia Strategy Support Program Working Paper 69]

Agricultural production and children’s diets: Evidence from rural Ethiopia

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