Agriculture and child under-nutrition in India: a state level analysis

Agriculture and child under-nutrition in India: a state level analysis

The basic rationale for exploring agriculture-nutrition linkage in developing countries is the existence of high level of undernutrition among rural population and a high level of their dependence on agriculture for livelihood.

This paper explores the possible linkages between agricultural prosperity with rural child nutrition at the macro level, controlling for sanitation and safe drinking water, using panel data fixed effects and random effects models.

The four alternate indicators of agricultural prosperity -  agricultural growth, worker productivity, land productivity and food grain production per capita used alternatively enable the authors to conclude that negative influence of agricultural prosperity on child undernutrition exists, though the influence of various aspects of prosperity on underweight and stunting differ.

Other aspects of agriculture considered, such as female agricultural wages help to reinforce the negative influence of agricultural prosperity on underweight in children and the land operational inequality dampens the impact of agricultural prosperity as it increases the incidence of stunting. Water and sanitation help reduce child undernutrition albeit differently on stunting and underweight. The same set of variables seems to influence stunting and underweight differently.

Their trajectories seem to differ. This study concludes that Indian agricultural growth through higher food grain production and through higher land productivity, when percolates through, labour productivity and higher wages, can reduce child undernutrition in rural India. However, public policy has to promote social provisioning of sanitation and health and make sure that agricultural growth is consistent. Public policy should ensure that growth translates into higher labour productivity and higher wages.

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