Farmers’ Adaptive Strategies in Balancing Commercial Farming and Consumption of Nutritious Foods: Case Study of Myanmar

M.C. Herens*, Monica Gabrielli, Bram Peters, J.H.A.M. Brouwers, D.R.B. Bosch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Food systems undergo rapid changes in response to economic and market forces, andenvironmental and dietary changes. This study aimed to disentangle adaptation strategies infarm households balancing interests in the commercial aspects of farming and the consumptionof nutritious foods. The area of interest was Central Myanmar, Pakokku region. A literature-basedframework was used to identify entry points for adaptation strategies at the farm household level.A purposive sampling strategy was used to select smallholders (<5 acres), engaged in market-orientedagriculture (10 years). In 14 households, in-depth interviews were conducted, using a life courseperspective depicting the household history in relation to agricultural developments and householdfood and nutrition security. The narratives of smallholders confirmed that household food andnutrition security was grounded in mixed livelihood strategies, including migration. Diet qualitydepended largely on income. Supportive strategies were a frugal lifestyle, responsible use of resources,participation in community activities, and different forms of social innovation. The study shows howthe understanding of local diets provides insights in entry points for nutrition-sensitive agriculture,and suggests a need for alternative adaptation strategies, replacing those promoting specializationand intensification, for more holistic solutions that reinforce the flexibility and resilience of farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4721
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2018


  • Agricultural commercialization
  • Food and nutrition security
  • Food systems
  • Life course perspective
  • Multi-level
  • Myanmar
  • Positive deviance
  • Salutogenesis


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