Combining market and nonmarket food sources provides rural households with more options to achieve better diets in Southern Benin

Mauricio R. Bellon, Gervais Ntandou-Bouzitou, Janet E. Lauderdale, Francesco Caracciolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study examines the relative contributions to dietary diversity of the diversity of plant and domesticated animal species which rural households produce or collect, i.e., nonmarket food sources, versus the diversity of foods purchased in markets. Although opinions differ in the literature as to their relative importance, clarifying how different sources of food contribute to the dietary diversity of rural households in the developing world is important to inform policies and interventions to improve their food security and dietary quality. This case study was carried out among a random sample of 654 rural households in southern Benin during two seasons: when food is plentiful after harvest; and when food is scarcer between harvests. We collected data on crops, wild plants, and domesticated animals utilized by households, the number of markets they visited, and the diet of a mother in the household, with a structured 24-hour food frequency questionnaire. We hypothesize that the number of markets visited is an indicator of the diversity of foods available in the markets they have access to, and thus shows the contribution of markets as food sources. Results support this hypothesis and show that households that produced more plant and domesticated animal species and those that visited more markets had more diversified diets. Obtaining diverse foods from multiple sources provides households with more options to achieve better diets. These results suggest a need for a more holistic approach that recognizes the complementarities between market and nonmarket sources of foods. This approach should build on the diversity of species rural households already utilize, and on the ways they interact with markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-422
Number of pages12
JournalFood Security
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Benin
  • Dietary diversity
  • Market participation
  • Production diversity
  • West Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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