Smallholder agriculture and household food and nutrition security: a study from East Hararghe, Ethiopia

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Aweke, Chanyalew S.
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University College Cork
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This study was conducted in Babille district, East Hararghe, Ethiopia, a mixed crop-livestock region selected because of its vulnerability to malnutrition. A sample of 400 rural households were drawn randomly from four kebelles in this district. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods were used. The findings indicated that agricultural production was mainly focused on staple food crops such as sorghum and maize, and a limited range of cash crops and animal products for sale. Nutritionally important food types such as vegetables, fruits, beans, eggs and meat were produced only by a minority of households and were largely sold for cash rather than being consumed within the producer household. From a dietary perspective households produced a limited number of food groups. Farming was also the main source of cash income with additional cash income obtained from a range of off-farm and non-farm activities, particularly wage labour, which were particularly important to the poorest households. In terms of food availability, more than half of the households experienced a food gap during the year, which was worse for female-headed households than their male counterparts; considerable differences was also found across the four kebelles. Diets in the area were dominated by cereals, and consumption of high-value foods such as meat, eggs, fruits, vitamin A-rich vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables was limited to small proportions of households, indicating a severe risk of nutrient deficiencies. Important seasonal differences were found in terms of household food access and dietary diversity between pre-harvest and post-harvest seasons. Regression analysis indicated that households producing diverse crops, with higher farm income, larger landholding size and larger household size had higher dietary diversity. The study concludes that agriculture production contributes positively to dietary diversity through own provision of food and cash income from farming.
Smallholder agriculture , Household food and nutrition security , Diet diversity , Seasonality , Gender , Food consumption
Aweke, C. S. 2016. Smallholder agriculture and household food and nutrition security: a study from East Hararghe, Ethiopia. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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