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Abstract

We investigate how household agricultural involvement affects food consumption and dietary diversity in Malawi. Ceteris paribus, a 10% increase in onfarm income share increases food consumption/capita by 2.9%, calorie intake/person/day by 1.7%, and leads to small improvements in dietary diversity. There are significant differences in the relationship between on-farm income shares and caloric shares: a positive and significant relationship with the shares from energy dense/low protein cereals/grains, but not significant with shares from nuts/pulses and sugars. Negative relationships are found with shares from roots/tubers, vegetables/fruits, oils/fats, and meat/fish/milk. While food consumption and dietary diversity increase with agricultural involvement, the quality of diets is an issue. As purchased calories are associated with richer/high quality diets, particularly protein rich, households with lower dependency on agriculture meet those diets more easily, highlighting the importance of crop and income diversification to dietary diversity. Nutrition education and crop diversification programs can improve food security and nutritional outcomes.

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