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The importance of non-farm livelihoods for household food security and dietary diversity in rural Myanmar

Pritchard, Bill, Rammohan, Anu, Vicol, Mark
Journal of rural studies 2019
arable soils, assets, farms, food security, household surveys, households, livelihood, nutritional adequacy, socioeconomics, Myanmar
Recent processes of socio-economic change in rural Myanmar are etching significant shifts to the social distribution of advantage and disadvantage, with implications for patterns of food security and dietary quality. This paper uses original panel household survey data to identify emergent relationships between land and livelihoods on the one hand, and food security and dietary quality, on the other. The paper concludes that whereas landholding households are more likely to be food secure and have higher dietary diversity than landless households, this association is strongly conditioned by livelihood and seasonal circumstances. Households with livelihood arrangements articulated to the non-farm economy, whether they were landholders or landless, exhibited superior food and nutritional outcomes compared to those with livelihoods only in farming. Hence, while access to arable land remains an important factor in shaping food security and dietary diversity, of greater importance is the capacity for households to supplement their land assets with livelihood activities in the non-farm economy. This finding reinforces broader arguments that emphasise the importance of the non-farm economy as a vital shaper of wellbeing for rural households in the global South.