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Why has agricultural development not contributed to improved nutrition in India?

Suneetha Kadiyala


Given agriculture’s importance for both food consumption andrural incomes, clearly one dimension of India’s malnutritionenigma is the apparent disconnection between agriculture andnutrition. Yet surprisingly this empirical disconnect is underresearched,perhaps chiefly because of a more academicdisconnect between nutrition and economics (Deaton andDreze 2009). To explore the empirical disconnect we begin witha macroeconomic approach that focuses on the relationshipbetween state-level agricultural production and malnutritionoutcomes. Using state-level regressions that control for health,infrastructure and nonfarm economic factors, we estimate growth-nutrition elasticities for agriculture and nonagriculture,which we compare to growth-poverty elasticities from theexisting literature (Ravallion and Dutt, 1996). We then zoom into look at how the sources of agricultural growth could influencenutrition outcomes (e.g. food vs. nonfood, macronutrient versusmicronutrient production) and related issues such as accessto irrigation, seasonality issues, and landlessness. Finally,we examine the impact of agricultural growth and income onchildhood malnutrition using the NCAER’s REDS (Rural Economicand Demographic Survey) data.

Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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