The impact of smallholder commercialisation on food consumption patterns in a rural community of South Africa was investigated. The consumption patterns, dietary diversity and nutrient intakes of certified and partially certified members of an organic farmers' organisation were compared to data from a random sample of non-member households. Two consecutive survey rounds (n = 200) conducted in November 2004 and March 2005 enabled comparison of dietary diversity, nutrient adequacy (in terms of per household adult female equivalents for energy, iron, and vitamin A) and expenditure elasticities between seasons. Households with members engaged in certified comm ercial organic farming enjoyed greater dietary diversity, improved nutrient intakes com pared to households with members in conversion to organic production and households not engaged in commercial organic farming. Farm and non-farm income strongly and positively influenced nutritional adequacy for households of partially certified and certified members of the organisation. Marked differences in expenditure elasticities were found between the three groups. The results suggested that commercialisation of small holder agriculture has potential to improve food consumption patterns and food quality directly through income generated and indirectly through increased labour opportunities that result in wages and inkind food transfers. While commerciali sation of small holder agriculture shows potential for improving nutrition, caution should be exercised before claiming that such commercialisation can alleviate food insecurity and solve hunger in South Africa.


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