Indian farmers' valuation of yield distributions: Will poor farmers value `pro-poor' seeds?
Potential poverty traps among the rural poor suggest a need to reduce poor farmers' vulnerability by stabilizing crop yields and limiting yield losses. Advances in biotechnology will help address this need directly with crops that tolerate climate fluctuation or resist biotic stresses. Evaluating ex ante how farmers will value these "poor" seeds is important for delivery design, but also challenging. This paper describes an experimental economic approach to understanding farmers' valuation of such seeds. Using data from a survey and experiment, I assess Indian farmers' valuation of changes in the mean, variance, and skewness of payoff distributions. These farmers value increases in expected value, but seem indifferent about higher moment changes in payoff distributions. Farmer traits such as wealth and risk exposure affect their valuation of these changes only mildly. While various limitations to the experimental approach must qualify practical implications of these findings, the experiment demonstrates the viability of conducting valuation experiments with open-ended questions in developing countries.
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