Diversifying food production and diets: evidence from Kenya

Abstract Number Theme Presentation Type Cover Approved
0188 Translating evidence into policy decisions for micronutrient interventions Poster Not Approved


Abstract Content


Investigate the association between production diversification and household diet diversity, including producer and consumer perspectives, among poor Kenyan smallholders.


These results are from two complementary studies: A quantitative analysis of data from a 2011 evaluation of Kenya’s Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC; n=1,782) and qualitative research – informant interviews (n=28), focus groups (n=106), farm walks and other site visits- conducted in 2015 in a poor farming community in Samia District.


Diversification out of maize and into legumes, poultry, and small livestock was significantly and positively associated with both total household level diet diversity and increased consumption of specific nutrient dense foods in the CT-OVC sample.Findings from the Busia study indicate a general downward trend in the production and consumption of various nutrient dense foods, including minor cereals (sorghum and millet), indigenous leafy vegetables, groundnuts, milk and ghee. Informants’ explanations include decreasing purchasing power, environmental degradation, changing preferences and lack of knowledge. Additionally, for minor cereals, lack of inputs and low marketability relative to maize were cited as major disincentives to production.


The CT-OVC results are in line with a growing body of evidence indicating a positive association between production diversification and diet diversity among poor African smallholders. However per the Busia study, a host of factors may reduce incentives to diversify, contributing to the marginalization of nutrient dense foods in these vulnerable populations. These include income constraints, environmental degradation, changing cultural norms, and weak investment in minor cereals pre and post-farm gate.

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