Patterns and Determinants of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Urban and Rural Areas of Enugu State, Nigeria



The main objective of this study was to evaluate the patterns and determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption in urban and rural areas of Enugu State, Nigeria. The study was articulated based on the fact that despite the relatively cheap and abundant sources of micro nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, there abound wide spread cases of micro nutrient deficiencies. The data was collected from primary sources through a set of questionnaire administered to 240 respondents. The study employed both purposive and random sampling technique in the selection of the respondents. The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics, Working –Leser functional form of regression and z- test statistic. Citrus, mango, plantain/banana, pineapples, papaya, star apple were the major types of fruits consumed, while, telferia, tomatoes, onions, garden eggs, okra and oha were the major vegetables consumed by the households. The result also showed that the average monthly consumption of fruit per household during the dry season was 17.8kg and 9.8kg for urban and rural areas, respectively while the average monthly consumption per household of fruits during the rainy season was 15.32kg and 12.87kg for urban and rural areas, respectively. It was 8.68kg for urban and 23.29kg for rural areas for vegetables during the dry season while it was 6.98kg for urban areas and 28.43kg for rural areas per monthly per household during the rainy season. The average budget share was 0.0849 for vegetables for households in the urban areas and 0.0690 for those in the rural areas. When pooled together; it was 0.0828 for fruits and 0.0769 for vegetables. Household’s monthly expenditure, number of adult females, age of household head, educational attainment of the household head, price, season and sex were determinants of fruit consumption in the urban areas. Total monthly expenditure, number of children, number of adult females, age of household head, educational attainment of household head and sex were determinants of vegetable consumption in the urban areas. In the rural areas, number of children, age of the household head, educational attainment of the household head, price of fruits and season were determinants of fruits consumption, whereas, total expenditure, number of adult males, number of adult females, age of household head, educational  attainment of the household head and price of vegetables were determinants of vegetable consumption. All these variables were significant at various levels of probability ranging from one to ten percent with different signs. Income elasticities were below one; ranging from 0.47 to 0.70. The income elasticity for fruit in urban areas was 0.60 and 0.47 in the rural areas. It was 0.60 for vegetables in the urban areas and 0.49 in the rural areas. It is therefore recommended that there is need to put in place policies to promote and support fruit and vegetable consumption. Secondly, attention should focus on the processing of fruits and vegetables into forms that can be stored. This will reduce post – harvest losses as well as making fruits and vegetables available in all the seasons. Again, education and behaviour change programmes to promote fruit and vegetable consumption should be mounted. Fruit and vegetable production should be encouraged particularly in the rural areas. In the same vein, feeder roads should be built and already built ones maintained. This will help transport these produce to the urban areas. This will also promote availability and affordability of these products.



1.1 Background Information

Low fruit and vegetable intake is the main contributor of micronutrient deficiencies in the developing world especially in population with low intake of animal protein foods such as meat and dairy products. World Health Organization (WHO) (2003) estimated that low intake of fruits and vegetables caused about 19% gastro- intestinal cancers, about 31% of ischemic heart disease and 11% of stroke. Of the global burden attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption, about 85% was from Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) and 15% from cancers. It estimated that about 2.7 million deaths were recorded yearly arising from these chronic diseases.

The implication of the emerging scenario is that 2.7 million lives could be saved each year with sufficient global fruit and vegetable consumption. According to the WHO/FAO (2003), the set population nutrient goals and recommended intake was put at a minimum of 400g for fruits and vegetables per day for the prevention of chronic heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity. The report also stated that there was convincing evidence that fruits and vegetables decreased the risk of obesity and evidence abound also that they probably decreased the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, there is convincing evidence that fruits and vegetables lower the risk of CVD.

Micro-nutrient deficiency resulting from low fruit and vegetable intake has been associated with various economic consequences. This is exemplified in a study in Ethiopia, (Croppenstedt and Muller, 2000). The result showed that nutritional status affected agricultural productivity and elasticities of labour productivity. Thus proving that there is a significant link between health and nutritional status and agricultural productivity.

However, in spite of this growing body of evidence highlighting the protective effects of fruits and vegetables, their intakes are still grossly inadequate both in developed and developing countries (IARC, 2003).

Analyses of family budgets suggest that the poorer the family, the greater is the proportion of the total expenditure on food thus obeying Engel’s law (Blissard et al, 2003). Engel’s Law states that as income rises, percentage of income spent on consumption rises slower as compared to rise in income. According to (Blissard et al, 2003), many analyses of family budgets conclude that the proportions of income devoted to various groups of commodities not only change with increasing income as stated in Engel’s law but also vary systematically.

Fruits and vegetables have been known to exhibit substantial heterogeneity with regard to demand, supply and trade characteristics (Damianos and Demoussis, 1992).  On the demand characteristics, most fruits and vegetables exhibit higher income elasticities than that for overall food consumption.  This implies that as income rises, the share of fruits and vegetables within the food budget also rises. The overall demand for fruits and vegetables are income elastic despite the relatively high share of fruits and vegetables in the food budget.

Fruit and vegetable production are characterized by a strong seasonal dimension, leading to substantial price fluctuation and income instability during the marketing period.  This is basically because as horticultural plants, they exhibit price elasticity supply responses.  A small increase in price can result in huge production increases (Damianos and Demoussis, 1992).  If prices were allowed to fall to accommodate the increased supply, fruits and vegetables that exhibit inelastic demand would record a reduction in income.  If, on the other hand, the demand is elastic, a drop in prices caused by increased supply will be followed by a more than proportional increase in the quantity demanded (Bergman, 1984).  Low income households are more responsive to price changes for vegetables, but less responsive to fruits (Dong and Lin, 2009).  On the other hand, it is estimated that most countries in the sub- Saharan Africa have income elasticities for fruits greater than the elasticities for vegetables (Ruel et al, 2004).


1.2     Problem Statement

Low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top risk factors contributing to about 2.7 million deaths globally (WHO, 2003).  In Nigeria, micronutrient malnutrition has been identified as a wide spread problem with serious economic consequences. These include, cognitive losses, work losses, low productivity, etc (Adish, 2009). This dismal picture of the micronutrient status spells serious consequences. In fact, estimated levels of current fruit and vegetable intake vary considerably around the world ranging from levels less than 100g/day in less developed countries to about 450g/day in Western Europe (WHO, 2003). Internationally, representative data on fruit and vegetable consumption in 21 countries, most of which are from the developed world, show that average intake reached the WHO/FAO minimum recommended level of 400g per capita per day (Israel, Italy and Spain) (IARC,2003). Specifically, in Nigeria, the 2007 estimated production of fruits and vegetables was 977.799 million tonnes and 8.082 million tonnes, while their consumption was estimated at 15.44 g/capita/day and 47.52 g/capita/day for fruits and vegetables respectively (FAO, 2008).

In Enugu State, statistics showed that between 2001 and 2007, 4.364 million tonnes of vegetables were produced (PCU, 2008). However, there are no available statistics for fruit production as well as their consumption in the area.  In a study (Kushwala et al, 2007), only the determinants of vegetable consumption was considered. The study did not consider fruits as well as their various elasticities. From the fore going, certain questions come to mind: What are the types and quantities of fruits and vegetables consumed by the households? What are the share of fruits and vegetables in the household’s food budget? What are the factors that shape consumption behaviour in relation to fruits and vegetables?

The diets of urban dwellers are generally more diverse than those of their rural counterparts (Regmi and Dyck, 2001; Ruel and Garret, 2003; Smith et al, 2003; Smith, 2004).  It is believed that this is due to a combination of factors including the availability of a wider variety of foods in urban markets, the availability of storage facilities, changes in life styles and cultural patterns and the need for convenience leading to the purchase of more processed food. According to Fabiosa and Soliman (2008), urban households show larger differentials in the elasticities for food and non-food items with much smaller elasticities for the food categories. Rural households on the other hand, show higher elasticities in the food categories, especially for meat, fish and dairy. However, urban households are less responsive to income changes than are rural households in the food categories; and more responsive in the non-food category.

Hence, this study to examine the patterns and determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption in the urban and rural areas of Enugu State, Nigeria.

1.3  Objectives of the study

The broad objective of this study was to evaluate the patterns and determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption in urban and rural areas of Enugu State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to:

  1. describe the household level fruit and vegetable consumption patterns in Enugu State in relation to the socio-economic attributes;
  2. describe the types and quantities of fruits and vegetables consumed by the households;
  3. compare the consumption patterns in urban and rural areas of the state;
  4. estimate the share of fruits and vegetables in the household’s food budget;
  5. analyze the determinants of demand for fruits and vegetables in the state;
  6. compare the demand elasticities of these fruits and vegetables in urban and rural areas.


1.4 Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were tested;

HO1. there is no significant difference between the consumption of fruits and

vegetables in urban and rural areas of Enugu State of Nigeria;

HO2. the determinants of the consumption of fruits and vegetables are not the

same in urban and rural areas;

HO3. there is  no significant  difference in the demand elasticities for fruits and

vegetables in  urban and rural areas of Enugu State; and

HO4. households’ socio-economic characteristics have no significant  effect on

the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the study area.


1.5 Justification for the study

It is known that low fruit and vegetable consumption is among the top 20 risk factors contributing to attributable mortality and up to 2.7 million lives could be saved each year with sufficient global fruit and vegetable consumption. This excludes, however, vitamin A deficiency (VAD), iodine deficiency diseases (IDD) and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). Abundant intake of fruits and vegetables is clearly a positive solution to problems of poor diet quality in the developing world. They are relatively cheap sources of essential micronutrients and are therefore a cost effective way to prevent micronutrient deficiencies and protection against the main killers associated with micronutrient deficiencies in the world today.

Many previous studies have addressed socio-economic differentials in the nutritional status of people in either rural or urban areas (Levin, 1996; Prasad and Prasad, 1991).  However, the magnitudes of socio-economic differentials in rural and urban population have seldomly been compared.  The danger of using such comparisms according to Menon et al, (2000) is that they mask the enormous differentials that exist between socio-economic groups in both urban and rural areas. It is expected that the study will:

Firstly, help to broaden the understanding of household level factors that influence the demand for fruits and vegetables in urban and rural areas in Enugu State. The result will assist in the promotional efforts to foster fruit and vegetable consumption in future. This is because these efforts can only be sustainable if such factors were properly analyzed.

Secondly, help create awareness on the need for the consumption of locally available fruits and vegetables bearing in mind the essential benefits of fruits and vegetables to human health. The study will also suggest strategies for improving fruits and vegetables consumption among the two demographic divide in Enugu State, vis-a-vis the nutritional and economic importance of fruits and vegetables.

Again, the findings will go a long way in providing information to guide future policy initiatives to promote and facilitate greater consumption of fruits and vegetables in the study area and help policy makers in planning and managing micronutrient malnutrition problems. Finally, it will help other researchers wishing to go into related areas of study.

1.6 Limitations of the Study

The following challenges were faced in the course of this study:

  1. Some of the respondents particularly, those in the rural areas were not able to say for sure the quantity of each of the fruits and vegetables consumed in standard measurements, example, kilogrammes, and grammes. Given this, the enumerators had to rely on verbal descriptions as reference measures.
  2. In some areas, during the collection of the data, the enumerators had to visit many times before they could be attended to. This became so worrisome because these respondents had earlier indicated interests to participate in the exercise when reconnaissance visits were made to the areas.


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