Food Production Diversity and Diet Diversification in Rural and Urban area of Iran.

Mohammad Mehdi Farsi Aliabadi, Faculty of Agricultural Economics, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

Mahmoud Daneshvar Kakhky, Faculty of Agricultural Economics, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

Mahmoud Sabohi Sabouni, Faculty of Agricultural Economics, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

Arash Dourandish, Faculty of Agricultural Economics, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

Hamid Amadeh, Faculty of Economics, University of Allame Tabatabaie, Tehran, Iran

Malnutrition, including undernourishment, micronutrient deficiency, and overnutrition remains one of the biggest challenges to global development (Luckett et al. 2015). Between these issues, micronutrient deficiency in the household diet is the most troublesome challenge, because it creates inappropriate health outcomes, especially in vulnerable (Drimie et al. 2013). In recent years it established that calorie intake reaches a satisfactory level in the world and many nutritional problems are not caused by the inadequacy of per capita energy intake, but a lack of diet quality (Carletto et al. 2013). Therefore, measurement of diet quality indexes gains considerable attention and dietary diversity considered as a proxy to measure nutritional quality (Ayenew et al. 2018; Mango et al. 2014).

In general, low diet quality characterized by a high proportion of starchy food and an insignificant amount of vegetables and animal sources and represents a low dietary diversity (O’Meara et al. 2019). Consequently, low dietary diversity could lead to increase the risk of nutrient deficiency in different vulnerable groups such as children, adolescent and elderly (Nachvak et al. 2017); moreover, it negatively affects adult work productivity, impaired physical and mental development and increase under five years mortality rate (Ochieng et al. 2017). On the other hand, a more diverse diet that includes all the food groups leads to a healthy population and helps to obtain optimal growth and development (Ciaian et al. 2018).

Dietary diversity defines a number of foods group consumption over a reference period. This index indicates that an increase in dietary diversity helps to ensure adequate intake of vital nutrients (Mukherjee et al., 2018). Dietary diversity can represent nutrition adequacy and diet quality. Therefore, providing a healthy and diverse diet is the main pillars of sustainable strategies for overcoming global malnutrition (Powell et al., 2017). In most developing countries, household food consumption attached to agricultural production on the local scale (Koppmair et al., 2017). Household diets in such regions mostly include the agricultural commodities produced in the same region. In recent decades, the transition from diversified cropping system toward cereal base system, on one hand, raise the availability of staple crops and per capita calories intake; on the other hand, the nutritional diversity of the global food system has remained largely stagnant (Remans et al. 2014). This issue becomes critical for developing countries because, for many years, the government navigates agricultural production through supportive policies to produce staple crops such as grain to provide the required energy consumption of households. Nevertheless, this agricultural production system cannot provide essential micronutrients (Koppmair et al., 2017).

Because of this monoculture system alongside the poorly developed market infrastructure and high transactions costs of smallholder integration into the fresh fruit, vegetable, and livestock value chain, the supply of fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy has not kept up with growing demand for consumption of these products (Pingali, 2015; Snapp and Fisher, 2014). Therefore, the prevalence of micronutrient deficiency turns in to a widespread challenge in the developing world (Sharma, 2018).

In Iran like many other developing countries because of income increase, urbanization, and change in people’s attitude toward health, household diet shifts away from coarse grain and other vegetables toward a more diverse diet that includes consumption of more sugar, animal protein and, edible oils (Liu et al. 2014; Pingali 2015). Most studies in this area focused on a specific region or different population groups (Abdollahi et al., 2014; Azadbakht et al., 2015; Ghasemifard et al., 2017). These Microscale studies conclude that low dietary diversity and imbalance consumption of food groups are the main characteristics of Iranian households at different income levels and between different subpopulation groups. In the last decades, agricultural production policy support in Iran tends to increase the production of staple crops. In other words, agricultural policies are not in harmony with the diet transition. Therefore, there is a substantial gap between the consumer’s demand and food production. This one-sided supportive policy approach can lead to low agricultural production diversity and, as a result, a significant gap between consumption and food production patterns might emerge (Koppmairet al., 2017). Given the existing gaps in the macro-scale studies, the present study contributes to the literature by using nationally representative data that contains information on household consumption, agricultural production, and geospatial variables to examine the link between agriculture production diversity and dietary diversification in rural and urban areas of Iran. Since household consumption pattern in rural and urban areas are different; therefore, in this study, impact of dietary diversity determinants have been investigated separately in rural and urban areas of Iran.


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The University of Florence is an important and influential centre for research and higher training in Italy