Up in smoke ? agricultural commercialization, rising food prices and stunting in Malawi
AbstractDiversification into high-value cash crops among smallholders has been propagated as a strategy to improve welfare in rural areas. However, the extent to which cash crop production spurs projected gains remains an under-researched question, especially in the context of market imperfections leading to non-separable production and consumption decisions, and price shocks to staple crops that might be displaced on the farm by cash crops. This study is a contribution to the long-standing debate on the links between commercialization and nutrition. It uses nationally-representative household surveydata from Malawi, and estimates the effect of household adoption of an export crop, namely tobacco, on child height-for-age z-scores. Given the endogenous nature of household tobacco adoption, the analysis relies on instrumental variable regressions, and isolates the causal effect by comparing impact estimates informed by two unique samples of children that differ in their exposure to an exogenous domestic staple food price shock during the early child development window (from conception through two years of age). The analysis finds that household tobacco production in the year of or the year after child birth, combined with exposure to an exogenous domestic staple food price shock, lowers the child height-for-age z-score by 1.27, implying a 70-percent drop in z-score. The negative effect is, however, not statistically significant among children who were not exposed to the same shock. The results put emphasis on the food insecurity and malnutrition risks materializing at times of high food prices, which might have disproportionately adverse effects on uninsured cash crop producers.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6650.
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Food&Beverage Industry; Rural Poverty Reduction; Regional Economic Development;
Other versions of this item:
- Wood, Benjamin & Nelson, Carl H. & Kilic, Talip & Murray, Siobhan, 2012. "Up in Smoke?: Agricultural Commercialization,Rising Food Prices and Stunting in Malawi," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 131261, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
- D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
- I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
- O13 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
- Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2013-10-18 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2013-10-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEV-2013-10-18 (Development)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jayne, T S, 1994. "Do High Food Marketing Costs Constrain Cash Crop Production? Evidence from Zimbabwe," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 387-402, January.
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