The influence of sugarcane growing by smallholder farmers on household livelihood, food security, and nutrition status of children below five years in mid-western Uganda

Article Authors: Robert Mbabazi Kaahwa, Sunday Mark Oyet, Christopher Muggaga, Ipolto Okello-Uma


The current study aimed at determining the influence of sugarcane production on livelihoods, food security and nutrition status. A cross-sectional study was carried out among 350 smallholder farmers in mid-western Uganda. Food security was assessed by Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) while household livelihood and nutrition status of children below five (5) years were assessed by a semi-structured questionnaire and anthropometry respectively. Results showed that sugarcane growing households (SCG) cultivated more acreage of food, owned more assets, earned more income than the non-sugarcane growing households (NSCG). Ownership of motorcycles was higher (p < 0.05) among SCG than NSCG. Households reported anxiety and uncertainty of having food in the previous four weeks (SCG 38%; NSCG 55.2%); had insufficient food quality (SCG 56.8%; NSCG 70.7%); and had insufficient food quantity (SCG 41.7%; NSCG 49.2%). SCG were more food secure (32.3%) than the NSCG (20.8%) (p < 0.05) with a corresponding mean HFIAS of 6.56 ± 6.69 and 8.41 ± 6.41, respectively. Stunting among children below five years among NSCG was higher (34.6%) than in SCG (21.3%). Among SCG, 7.3% and 5.2% of children were underweight and wasted while 6.06% and 2.7% were underweight and wasted from NSCG. This demonstrated that sugarcane growing had better livelihood outcomes, positively impacted on asset ownership and food security but mixed effect on nutrition indicators among children in sugarcane growing and non-sugarcane growing households. It is recommended that government and development agencies diversify livelihoods among the NSCG and reinforce the existing livelihoods among SCG; provide nutrition education to both SCG and NSCG for improved food security and nutrition outcomes. Authors suggest further studies using a mixed approach to assess the levels of household nutrient intake in sugarcane growing areas.

Bibliographical metadata

Journal Journal of Agriculture and Food Research
Volume 14
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