A latent class approach to investigating farmer demand for biofortified staple food crops in developing countries

The case of high-iron pearl millet in Maharashtra, India

This study explores farmer acceptance and valuation of a biofortified staple food crop in a developing country prior to its commercialization. We focus on the hypothetical introduction of a high-iron pearl millet variety in Maharashtra, India, where pearl millet is among the most important staple crops. A choice experiment is used to investigate farmer preferences for and trade-offs among various production and consumption attributes of pearl millet. The key pearl millet attributes studied included days it takes pearl millet to mature, color of the roti (flat bread) the grain produces, the presence of high-iron content (nutritional attribute), and the price of the pearl millet seed. Choice data come from 630 pearl millet-producing households randomly selected from 3 purposefully selected districts of Maharashtra. A latent class model is used to investigate the heterogeneity in farmers’ preferences for pearl millet attributes and to profile farmers who are more or less likely to choose high-iron varieties of pearl millet. Our results reveal that there are three distinct segments in the sample, and there is significant heterogeneity in farmer preferences across these segments. High-iron pearl millet is valued the most by larger households that produce mainly for household consumption and currently have lower quality diets. Households that mainly produce for market sales, on the other hand, derive lower benefits from consumption characteristics such as color and nutrition. These results have implications for the design of targeted strategies to maximize adoption and consumption of high-iron pearl millet varieties.

Birol, Ekin
Asare-Marfo, Dorene
Roy, Devesh
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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