Does ownership of improved dairy cow breeds improve child nutrition? A pathway analysis for Uganda.
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The promotion of livestock production is widely believed to support enhanced diet quality and child nutrition, but the empirical evidence for this causal linkage remains narrow and ambiguous. This study examines whether adoption of improved dairy cow breeds is linked to farm-level outcomes that translate into household-level benefits including improved child nutrition outcomes in Uganda. Using nationwide data from Uganda's National Panel Survey, propensity score matching is used to create an unbiased counterfactual, based on observed characteristics, to assess the net impacts of improved dairy cow adoption. All estimates were tested for robustness and sensitivity to variations in observable and unobservable confounders. Results based on the matched samples showed that households adopting improved dairy cows significantly increased milk yield-by over 200% on average. This resulted in higher milk sales and milk intakes, demonstrating the potential of this agricultural technology to both integrate households into modern value chains and increase households' access to animal source foods. Use of improved dairy cows increased household food expenditures by about 16%. Although undernutrition was widely prevalent in the study sample and in matched households, the adoption of improved dairy cows was associated with lower child stunting in adopter household. In scale terms, results also showed that holding larger farms tends to support adoption, but that this also stimulates the household's ability to achieve gains from adoption, which can translate into enhanced nutrition.
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