Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1449–1462 | Cite as

Livelihood effects of crop diversification: a panel data analysis of rural farm households in Zambia

  • Rhoda Mofya-MukukaEmail author
  • Munguzwe Hichaambwa
Original Paper


We examined factors driving farm households to diversify their crop production, using panel data from two waves of nationally representative surveys of rural farm households in Zambia. The Simpson Index of Diversification was used as the dependent variable in a determinants model, first testing for fixed effects and then estimating a QMLE model to test for robustness of the results. Factors that promoted agricultural diversification included agricultural extension, asset endowment, smallholder access to land, access to markets, and investments in irrigation and water harvesting. However, the two key government policy programs of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) (which focuses on maize) negatively affected crop diversification. We also examined the impact of crop diversification on livelihoods measured by household income, Months of Household Adequate Food Provisions (MAHFP), Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) and Food Consumption Score (FCS). Crop diversification had a positive and significant impact on farm income (but not household income) and MAHFP. The impact on HDDS and FCS, though positive and significant, was much weaker. We conclude that diversifying crop production in Zambia is necessary for raising rural farm income and food availability but less so for improving access to a diverse range of foods as measured by the HDDS and FCS.


Simpson index of diversification Household income Nutrition outcome Fractional response model ∙ correlated random effects 



An earlier version of this article, by the same authors, was published as a Working Paper in the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) series of Working Papers. The paper can be accessed online at We are grateful to Chris Thompson from the Department for International Development, UKAID Zambia for proof reading the manuscript and suggesting improvements.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors of this article declare no conflict of interest in the content of the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indaba Agricultural Policy Research InstituteLusakaZambia

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