Agricultural correlates of linear growth and key modifiers among children under two years in rural Uganda

Authors: Nilupa Gunaratna

Many sources have recently called for agricultural programs and policies to become more “nutrition-sensitive”, with the aim of harnessing agriculture to improve nutrition and health. Several researchers have described potential causal pathways through which agriculture could impact the nutrition and health of vulnerable populations. Stunting, or poor linear growth, particularly in young children is a key indicator. Reflecting chronic undernutrition, stunting can begin in utero, and studies have shown that it can be difficult to recover from faltering in linear growth during gestation and the first two years of life, with long-term consequences through adulthood and into the next generation.
Despite the careful elaboration of potential causal pathways from agriculture to nutrition, there is little empirical evidence for these linkages in Uganda or similar settings. Furthermore, in the case of stunting, there are many potential non-agricultural determinants, such as poor diet and repeated infections. Some of these act along shorter, more immediate causal pathways than hypothesized agriculture-related determinants, and they can be important confounders in observed relationships between agriculture and nutritional outcomes. In this paper, we therefore investigate whether increased agricultural investment or productivity are associated with better linear growth in young rural Ugandan children, taking into account other key factors influencing linear growth and nutritional status.