In developing countries, malnutrition is the best way to combat it, not by expanding the range of crops produced by smallholder farmers, however, it is best addressed by increasing the access of markets. The conclusion is drawn from a new research conducted by MwAPATA Institute in Malawi. MwAPATA Institute in Malawi and the University of Bonn in Germany. The increased variety in the production of animals However, it does have positive results. The results are published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal. The Lancet Planetary Health.

Not just a lack of food However, an eating plan that is too specific can result in serious negative health effects. A diverse diet is essential to avoid undernutrition. This is why research is often recommending that small-scale farmers in Africa which are the most affected, should cultivate diversifying crops. Since these farms produce to large amount in their personal consumption, increased diversity of the fields could positively impact the nutrition of their livestock. However, to date there are only very few studies that are regionally focused on the impacts of further diversification in the farm.

The researchers from MwAPATA Institute MwAPATA Institute and the University of Bonn have utilized a much vast collection of information they have analyzed surveys carried out by the national statistics office from Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda where the same smallholder families were frequently visited and surveyed over a number of years. The information reveals the amount of crops that were grown and the species of livestock that are kept. They also provide data on the weight, age and height of the children living on the farm of the family. This allows them to determine different indicators of their nutritional condition.


A growth rate of 50,000 children and teens assessed

“In all, we examined data from over fifty thousand children and adolescents from more than 20,000 randomly chosen farm,” says MwAPATA Institute researcher Dr. Makaiko Khonje. “We connected these data to the diversity of production on farm operations.” Researchers discovered three significant findings The first was that the variety of crops did not have a significant impact on the growth of children and their nutrition status. A wider selection of animals but, in fact, had positive effects. A cow or goat maybe together with chickens, and other animals could improve the nutritional state of your pet which is the second point.

The third significant result is linked to local market. “Improved access to markets is a significant influence on the nutritional status of a person,” Khonje explains. Because those who sell their products on the market and then buy the food items that they do not have will also have a greater diversity on the table. In many locations however, the proper infrastructure isn’t there. The roads leading to the market are usually so poor that the transport process takes a long duration and some products are damaged or spoil during transport. “If you’re unable to sell only a portion of the food at the end, and you have to dispose of it in the end, then the effort will not be worth it,” explains Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim from the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, who was involved in the research.


Specialization is a good idea However, it is not a monoculture.

The researchers suggest that you don’t concentrate on more diversity within the field, since in many instances having better access to markets will be more effective. A lot of diversification can be detrimental, they argue because every cultivar has their own specific requirements and therefore requires specialized knowledge. “Moreover there are a few soils that is suitable for every type of crop,” Khonje points out. “It’s best to concentrate on those species that perform particularly well locally and then sell the excess.”

However, it’s not recommended to be specialized too much, they insist. “A moderate amount of diversity is also beneficial from an environmental standpoint and reduces risks for smallholders,” Says Qaim who is part of Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) “Sustainable Future” as well as”the” Cluster of Excellence “PhenoRob.” “Pure monocultures aren’t the answer.”


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Materials are provided by the University of Bonn. Note: Material could be edited to improve length and style.