Food Culture and Policy Environments 

Elise Talsma, Wageningen University

Soumya Gupta, Cornell University, USA

Structural transformation and Intrahousehold food allocation: evidence from India
While attention has focused on determinants of dietary diversity at the individual and household- level, little is known about biases in intrahousehold- food allocation and the factors behind it. Even less is known about how such biases are influenced by the pace of structural transformation. In this paper we analyze differences in dietary diversity scores of women relative to men in the same households. This intrahousehold difference in dietary diversity scores is referred to as the ‘dietary gap’. We use nationally- representative data from India's National Family Health Survey to analyze the magnitude and determinants of the dietary gap. We control for demographic factors like age, education and household size; as well as measures of women’s empowerment. And finally, we account for variations in subnational structural transformation by way of per capita GDP and associated variables. We find evidence for a significant shortfall in the diversity of diets for women as compared to men. Furthermore, the gap in dietary diversity varies by the level of structural transformation within the country. Apart from the stage of structural transformation, women’s empowerment is an important determinant as well. Our results point towards the importance of addressing systemic biases in women’s dietary intake.


Almamy Sylla and Jummai Yila, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Pattern or effect of gender roles in in agri-food systems in Mali
Equality is crucial in agriculture and food production for fair distribution of food and welfare outcome among smallholder farmers and rural consumers in West and Central Africa. In a country like Mali with high population growth (3.6% per year, see RGPH, 2009), in which majority of the population is rural and poor, the provision of food for the population, especially women and children under 5 years of age, is an urgent development imperative. Food production, supply and consumption intersects with socioeconomic status of food producers or consumers, food sharing cultural norms, gender roles in production and food distribution practices and roles. The case of Mali is taken here to illustrate huge inequalities in food production and supply and the effects of gender roles on food production and consumption patterns in the most of rural settings in Mali. The evidence presented here comes from a study conducted in Mali on the cereal (millet and sorghum) and groundnut value chain actors’ trait preferences and the entrepreneurial practices of youth involved in agri-food systems in Mali. It was found that while food production requires the interrelationship of various actors and institutions in the agri-food nodes, there are specific gender roles in food production that is dependent on the availability of resources, the cultural division of labor and the gender roles in food production. Food security can only be achieved by cultivating equality in food production and supply for the poor consumers by integrating and considering all the segments of agri-foods as a whole.


Vivian Valencia, Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands

Public policies for agricultural diversification: Implications for gender equity
Identifying mechanisms by which policies and interventions in agriculture may enhance women’s empowerment— a critical aspect of gender equity—is of paramount importance for sustainable development. We investigated how targeted public food procurement, a promising policy instrument to support farm diversification, influences women’s empowerment. We also discuss how targeted public food procurement may bridge across Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to support transformation of food systems towards sustainability. Specifically, we assessed Brazil’s flagship public food procurement program, the National School Feeding Program, in southern Brazil. We compared farmers (n=75) who do and do not participate in the National School Feeding Program and conducted household surveys on farm characteristics and practices women’s empowerment, and women’s participation in social movements. We found that women were more empowered in households participating in the National School Feeding Program, and that this empowerment was associated with diversified farming systems. When women were more empowered and, therefore, jointly participated in farm management with male farmers, we found that agrobiodiversity and use of agroecological practices were at their highest. Finally, we show that women’s participation in social movements related to agroecology was associated with both higher empowerment and household participation in the National School Feeding Program. Targeted public food procurement is a promising policy instrument to support multiple SDGs by linking cross-sectoral efforts to increase food production (SDG 2), provide economic opportunities for small-scale farmers (SDG 1), and create an economic space that women in agriculture can more easily access (SDG 5).


Farhana Hussain Ibrahim, International Potato Center (CIP)

A nutrition-sensitive agriculture intervention in Bangladesh: What were the most significant changes for women and men?
It is widely recognized that nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions can improve diet and nutritional outcomes when they are multi-functional, combining agronomic, nutritional and hygiene behavior change through capacity strengthening, access to agricultural resources and offering techniques for empowering women and men. However, the pathways to positive nutritional outcomes are complex, involving among other things subjective perceptions of the change process itself, which has often been neglected. To address this issue, we employed a subjective story-telling method known as “Most Significant Change” to supplement other conventional qualitative and quantitative assessments. In-depth interviews were conducted with 26 women and 12 men in districts of Khulna and Satkhira. We present narratives about how the multi-functional interventions changed women and men’s lives and/or livelihoods and why. Most significant changes experienced by women were diverse: awareness of nutritional diet, hygiene practices, care of mother and child; ability to contribute to household expenses; involvement in decision-making; and increased freedom of movement. Men’s changes were mostly economic: capacity to invest in additional livestock and new transport to increase earnings; investing in their children through keeping them in school; acquiring increased knowledge of production and post-harvest technology; becoming aware of the importance of OFSP for household nutrition and the economic benefits of producing sweet potato planting material. They also recognized their own behaviour change, supporting spouses for improved household nutrition and hygiene. We conclude with identifying the impact pathways from the intervention to improved dietary outcomes and highlight the role of gendered subjective perceptions in facilitating positive dietary outcomes.