Impact of Agricultural Diversification and Commercialization on Child Nutrition in Zambia: A Dose Response Analysis

Rhoda Mofya-Mukuka, Christian Kuhlgatz


Zambia, and in particular Eastern Province, has one of the highest levels of malnutrition in the world with 40% of the children having stunted growth. Agricultural diversification and commercialization remain critical for improving the nutrition status of children. However, the impact may vary according to the level of the two agricultural interventions. Results from the dose response function using generalised propensity score method showed that for commercialization, there is highest risk of stunting at medium commercialization levels at 50%. A farm at this point can improve nutrition status by moving either towards high or towards zero levels. Commercialization has a negative effect on short-term nutrition outcomes leading to underweight and wasting. This could indicate that in areas with less everyday access to a range of food items, capital accumulation may not help to avoid deficiencies in child nutrition. In combination with our findings on diversification, two policy options can be recommended. Either the households specialize in cash crops to increase income, or they go into subsistence farming with high levels of diversification. Other off-farm income sources are suggested for resilience in case of yield shocks.

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Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

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