New article on combining farmer participatory research with experimental auctions
Combining participatory crop trials and experimental auctions to estimate farmer preferences for improved common bean in Rwanda
PhD student Kurt Waldman, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation in April 2014, published an article in Food Policy on his research that combines farmer participatory research with experimental auctions to evaluate farmers’ preferences for improved bean varieties in Rwanda. Associate Professor John Kerr and Crop and Soil Sciences PhD student Krista Isaacs are co-authors. The paper, titled “Combining participatory crop trials and experimental auctions to estimate farmer preferences for improved common bean in Rwanda,” demonstrates the power of combining these two methods in the quest to develop improved seed varieties for farmers in marginal production environments of developing countries. In Rwanda, which is characterized by high rural population density, variable soil types and microclimates, farmers have long practiced intercropping on multiple small plots of land as a way to manage risk, but in recent years the government has been pushing for land consolidation and monocropping, which it considers more modern. Set against this background, in this paper auctions revealed very different preferences than simple non-binding rankings, with non-binding rankings favoring varieties that performed well in monocrop and auction bids favoring those performing well in intercrop. In addition, auction participants who also participated in crop trials had fundamentally different preferences than those who did not, reflecting their actual experience with the crops. The combination of the two methods most likely yields the most accurate prediction of which beans farmers will adopt.