DOI: 10.1002/agr.21892 ISSN: 0742-4477

Nourishing the farms, nourishing the plates: Association of climate‐smart agricultural practices with household dietary diversity and food security in smallholders

Simone Santalucia, Kibrom T. Sibhatu
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Food Science


Climate‐smart agricultural (CSA) practices are increasingly being promoted as nature‐based solutions to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farm households amid a sharp increase in climate‐change anomalies. However, the extent to which CSA practices contribute to smallholder food security and dietary diversity remains unclear. In this study, we use panel and nationally representative data from Tanzania to examine the association between two climate‐smart agricultural practices, namely, improved maize varieties and maize‐legume intercropping, and food security in smallholder farm households. We use maize yield per acre, adult‐equivalent food expenditure, and household dietary diversity scores to measure household food security, representing three of the four food security pillars: availability, access, and utilization. We also examine the complementarity and potential advantages of combining improved maize seeds with fertilizers. Using standard panel data estimation approaches, we find a positive association between the adoption of improved maize varieties and maize‐legume intercropping and an increase in food production measured through higher crop productivity. However, we do not find a corresponding improvement in household dietary diversity or increased food expenditure, despite the higher crop production. Several factors might explain this outcome, including the challenges faced by farmers in accessing markets to sell surplus produce, the influence of established dietary habits, gender issues, and other local factors that promote the consumption of cereal‐based foods such as maize. Our findings suggest that CSA practices may help improve food production and availability, but more effort is needed to translate increased food production into improved dietary diversity and better food security among smallholder farmers in sub‐Saharan Africa. [EconLit Citations: C23, D12, D13, D24, Q12, Q16, Q18, Q54].

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