Crop Commercialization and Nutrient Intake Among Farming Households in Uganda

Agriculture commercialization is seen as a pathway towards rural economic transformation since it is expected to enhance a wide array of household welfare indicators. This study examines the channels through which household nutrient intake can be influenced in the process of crop commercialization. This was investigated using LSMS-ISA survey data for Uganda under the control function approach. The findings show that while commercialization increases crop income, its impact on overall nutrient intake was negative. Another crucial finding was that while rural based households stood to gain more from the crop commercialization benefits, they were less commercialized on average. The role of markets as a key ingredient in the agricultural commercialization process was confirmed, with households that had access to an agricultural produce market being more commercialized and with better nutrient intake. Male headed households practice more commercialization on average. However, their households have less nutrient intake compared to their female headed counterparts. While this finding is in line with a considerable strand of the literature, it casts a shadow on the nutritional benefits of agricultural commercialization given that majority households in Uganda are male headed. The findings point to two important policy implications. First, policy interventions geared towards agricultural commercialization are proving beneficial for household income generation. However, this is not necessarily translating into improved nutrient intake. Second, the rural households who are the primary target of the commercialisation policy are less commercialized. These need support. Third, there is the need for the improvement of societal knowledge and perception about what constitutes a good diet. Basically, while there is a link between agricultural production, income, education, health and nutrition. This link is so far weak in this study and previous evidence on a number of developing countries.