Agriculture-nutrition linkages in farmers' communication networks

In the recent development discourse, much emphasis has been placed on making agriculture more nutrition-sensitive as an important component in combating hunger and malnutrition among rural households in developing countries. In order to achieve this at scale, nutrition information could be diffused to farm households organized in community-based organizations (CBOs) through the existing agricultural extension systems. However, to date little is known about how information flows within CBOs and how extension interventions could be designed to deliver combined information on agriculture and nutrition. This study uses unique network data from 815 farm households in Kenya to investigate the structure and characteristics of agricultural and nutrition information networks within CBOs. Dyadic regressions are used to analyze the factors influencing link formation for the exchange of agricultural and nutrition information. In addition, we apply fixed-effects models to identify the characteristics of central persons driving information exchange in the two networks, as well as potentially isolated persons, who are excluded from information networks within their CBOs. Our results show that nutrition information is exchanged within CBOs, although to a limited extent, and mostly flows through the existing agricultural information links. Thus, diffusing nutrition information through agricultural extension systems may indeed be a viable approach. Our findings further suggest that group leaders and persons living in central locations are important drivers in the diffusion of information in both networks and may thus serve as suitable entry points for nutrition-sensitive extension programs. However, we also identify important heterogeneities in network characteristics. In particular, nutrition information is less often exchanged between men and women, and some group members are completely isolated from nutrition information exchange within their CBOs. We derive recommendations on taking these differences in network structure and characteristics into account when designing nutrition-sensitive extension programs.

Issue Date:
Jul 09 2018
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
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 Record created 2018-07-09, last modified 2020-10-28

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