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A Comparative Study of the Household Food Access by Farmers in Farmer Field and Life Schools in Gatanga Constituency, Kenya

Many programs have been initiated to assist farmers diversify food production. The Farmer Field and Life Schools (FFLS), an agricultural extension methodology, is an example. Dietary assessment methods are used for nutrition assessments. This study compared household food consumption patterns, by using the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) of households who participated in the FFLS at baseline and after intervention and Non-FFLS households in the Gatanga Constituency in Murang’a County. The study was based on a United Nations Joint Program implemented from 2009 to 2013. A comparative cross-sectional design was used in this study to compare FFLS at baseline, after intervention and Non-FFLS households. 112 households (56 for cases and 56 for comparative group) participated in this study. The baseline survey with 390 households was in 2009. Data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 21. Paired and independent T-Tests were used to determine the difference in the household dietary diversity score between FFLS at baseline and after intervention, and post intervention FFLS and Non-FFLS, respectively. Results show that 42.8% (n=56) of the FFLS households and 28.5% of non-FFLS household respondents were over 50 years of age. 49% of FLS and 11% non FFLS households have incomes ranging from 0-5,000 Ksh. per month, with 41% of FFLS and 32% non FFLS having incomes ranging from Ksh. 5,001- 10,0001 . Mean for Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) at baseline was 8.16 and Non-FFLS was 8.45. Minimum food groups consumed across all groups were cereals, milk and milk products, oils and fats. Comparing FFLS at baseline and post intervention, the percentage of households consuming all food groups increased with exception of fruits and meat. There was a significant difference (p=0.007 against p<0.0005) in the HDDS when FFLS groups post intervention were compared with their baseline. There was no significant difference (p=0.176, against p<0.0005) in the HDDS between FFLS post intervention and non-FFLS households. Compared with the baseline information, FFLS participants who were of low economic status improved their HDDS. Targeting of vulnerable households to participate in such programs has the potential of improving their HDDS compared with the regular HDDS population. Integration of nutrition in agricultural programs with strong extension systems like the – has great potential to improve access and consumption of diversified foods for vulnerable households.