Journal of
Development and Agricultural Economics

  • Abbreviation: J. Dev. Agric. Econ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9774
  • DOI: 10.5897/JDAE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 528


Understanding the interaction between farm labor productivity, and health and nutrition: A survey of the evidence

Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere1*, Catherine Chiang2, Paul Thangata1, Kwaw Andam3 and Daniel Ayalew Mekonnen1
1International Food Policy Research Institute, P. O. Box 5689, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 2International Food Policy Research Institute, 2033 K Street, Washington, D.C. 20006-1002, USA. 3The World Bank, Washington, DC.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 13 February 2011
  •  Published: 31 March 2011


Good health is an asset for agriculture, as healthy people can produce more and good nutrition contributes to it. Conversely, agriculture is an asset which contributes to good health and nutrition, and resilience. When both health and agriculture thrive, a reinforcing cycle of health can result, but when either suffers, the cycle becomes one of lowered agricultural productivity and lowered health. Agricultural development and practice can exacerbate the incidence of disease through an interaction with disease vectors and parasites. When disease afflicts farmers, their productivity is reduced and they remain in poverty. Beyond the direct impacts due to loss of labor, illness undermines long-term agricultural productivity in a number of ways: when illness leads to long-term incapacitation, households may respond through withdrawal of savings, the sale of important assets (such as jewelry, textiles, breeding animals, farm equipment, and land), withdrawing children from school, or reducing the nutritional value of their food consumption. All of these responses can have adverse effects on the long-term labor productivity of household members. The good news is that there are many global efforts to combat disease and these are paying off with long term prediction of falling incidence of disease in many regions of the world.


Key words: Agriculture, farming, health, disease, nutrition, labor productivity.