Effect of sugarcane production on household dietary diversity in Busoga Sub-region, Uganda
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Sugarcane production has been on the rise in Uganda in the past few years and the cultivated area has dramatically increased in Eastern Uganda. As the processors’ internal production capacity became insufficient to meet their processing needs, they enlisted smallholder farmers to serve as out-growers. This led to a tremendous increase in the number of out-growers that saw sugarcane production as a viable economic activity. However, there remains a dearth of information on how sugarcane production is influencing household food diversity in the sub-region. This study assessed the influence of sugar cane production on household dietary diversity in Busoga sub-region. Specifically, this study; (i) assessed the spatial-temporal patterns of sugarcane production in Busoga sub-region; (ii) determined the effect of sugarcane adoption on household dietary diversity in Busoga sub-region; and, (iii) examined the choice options adopted to secure household dietary diversity in Busoga sub-region. The study utilized a combination of remote sensing GIS and a cross-sectional survey to collect the required data. Geo-spatial analysis including the use of supervised and unsupervised classification, descriptive analysis, and multinomial logistic regression was utilized in the data analysis. Results showed that sugarcane growing areas in Busoga Sub-region have increased by a 13 fold over the 20 year period of analysis. Sugarcane growing households were observed to have a significantly lower average household dietary diversity score (HDDS 4.049) compared to non-sugarcane growing households (HDDS 5.317). Tubers were the most consumed food groups, followed by vegetables and cereals among both sugarcane and non-sugarcane growing households. Meanwhile, milk, fruits, and sugar food groups were consumed higher among the non-sugarcane growing households compared to sugarcane growing households. Household dietary diversity was positively influenced by marital status (p=0.049), household size (p=0.011), crop diversity (p=0.000) and livestock ownership (p=0.000) while a male undertaking the decision on food purchase and consumption negatively influenced household dietary diversity (p=0.028). Households adopted different options to meet their dietary needs which included; growing a diversity of crops, restocking livestock, diversified livestock breeds, and agroforestry among others. This study has shown that sugarcane growing has dramatically increased and negatively impacted on household dietary diversity in the sub-region. Diversification of cultivated food crops coupled with livestock keeping is recommended for households to improve household dietary diversity.