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Barriers to Agricultural Technology Adoption in Developing Countries, and the Potential Role of Biofortification

Barriers to Agricultural Technology Adoption in Developing Countries, and the Potential Role of BiofortificationAlan de BrauwMarkets Trade and Institutions Division, International Food Policy Research Institute and Flagship Leader, Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (CGIAR)

How can we better nourish 9 billion?Food availability is not a problem, nor is it likely to beIn fact, there is a great deal of untapped agricultural potential in specific regionsSub-Saharan Africa, parts of South Asia, CambodiaMore important is what kind of food will be availableMore nutritious crops need to be more availableMore nutritious crops now include biofortified crops staple crops bred for additional micronutrients

Major Grain Availability in the World, 2012CropTotal Production(MMT)Daily Calories per CapitaRice7201014Wheat670865Maize8721092TOTAL2971

Data from FAOStat; assumed population of 7 billion

Even with plenty of calorie availabilityUntapped Productivity Potential in Several Parts of the WorldBut at current price levels and trends there is a large underinvestment in more nutritious foods

Untapped Productivity: Evidence on Average Yields (t/ha)MaizeRiceWheatWorld4.94.43.1Africa2.02.52.4South Asia2.73.52.8

Data from FAO Stat

Untapped Productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere

From recent National Geographic

How to improve agricultural technology adoption?

World Agricultural production is not close to reaching its potentialParticularly true in sub-Saharan AfricaEven without any new technology, world production could be much higherNeed is to induce farmers to switch from traditional varieties of crops to modern varietiesBut how?

Note 40-100% increases in yields in field trials in Kenya8

Question 1: Is it profitable for farmers to grow modern varieties?Suri (2011) built a framework allowing heterogenous returns to growing hybrids, finds:Group of farmers with high potential returns, not growing hybrids, but high cost of obtaining seeds and fertilizer (so they dont)Another group with positive but lower returns grows hybridsOthers do not grow hybrids all the time, have essentially zero returnsNew question: how can modern varieties be made profitable for smallholder farmers?

10 Challenges for Adoption(ATAI)Lack of InformationRisk and UncertaintyLack of FinanceLabor Market ProblemsLand Market ProblemsExternalitiesCoordination FailuresDistribution ProblemsLack of appropriatenessDistorted Prices

Technologies not AppropriateFarmers may have different preferences than policy-makers/breedersPolicy makers may be too risk averse in approving new Available technology may not be right for marginal land, etc.Profits may actually be variable to higher yielding varieties of appropriate cropsTaste, cultivation attributes may also matterCan potentially include drought/heat resistance

Intervention Ideas: Appropriate TechnologiesMore Participatory Breeding? (Walker, 2008)But lack of evidence this could be cost effectiveNeed to consider gender in developing interventions for appropriate technologiesWomen often lack same access to improved seeds, inputs (even within households in west Africa)Difficult to predict the gender distributional consequences of new technologies targeted to women (e.g. von Braun, 1989)May be a need for different types of technologies as well

Average Yield Increases, Selected Crops (1961=100)

Percent Changes in Cereal and Pulse Production, and in Population, 1965-1999


Evidence: Shares of daily calorie consumption by food groupsIdealUSChinaBangladeshStarchy Staples48314980Legumes & Nuts22534Animal & Fish Products1014204Fruits & Vegetables9792Fats & Sugars11431910Total Calories2200Too manyToo manyToo few

Source for Ideal shares: Thompson and Meerman, FAO, 2013

New Idea: Value Chains for Enhanced NutritionIdea: Intervene in Value Chains to improve the consumption of nutritious cropsLegumes; Vegetables/Fruits; Animal Source FoodsIncome increases are not sufficient to improve diet Policies sometimes promote production of grains at the expense of healthier productsInterventions should work through prices (reductions); income; or information Should consider food safety as intervention is designed if warranted

InputsFarmerBuyers (Middlemen), Processors, SellersConsumerValue ChainFinancingPossible Interventions

Value Chains for Enhanced Nutrition: ExampleIFPRI Project: Laiterie du Berger (LB) in St Louis, Senegal buys milk from semi-nomadic herders in northern Senegal to produce yogurt and a fortified yogurt product called ThiakryMilk availability is seasonal LB has to import powder to make ThiakryPopulation producing yogurt is highly anemicTo try to regularize milk collection and improve iron status of population, an intervention offered Thiakry for children when specific producers met collection targetsPreliminary result: Reduced anemia by 11 percentage points but not clear it is cost effective

New Technology: BiofortificationIdea Behind Biofortification (HarvestPlus): Breed essential micronutrients (vitamin A, iron, zinc) right into staple cropsVitamin A Orange Sweet Potato (Mozambique, Uganda)High Iron Beans (Rwanda)Vitamin A Cassava (Nigeria)High Iron Pearl Millet (India)Vitamin A (Orange) Maize (Zambia)Others on the wayLack of micronutrients greatly contributes to deaths among under 5s due to malnutrition and hinders child development

HarvestPlus release varieties shouldHave enough of the target micronutrient to make a difference in nutritional status;Be bioavailable;Yield at least as well as varieties farmers use, among test populations;Taste good (according to local populations)

Methods: HarvestPlus REU (2006-2009)Introduced OSP to farmers in 2007 in Mozambique and Uganda through vine distribution and salesAccompanied by both agricultural and nutrition extension in both countriesAnd marketing intervention to attempt to build marketing chainImpacts measured with Randomized Control Trial; baseline and endline; detailed dietary intake studyGoal of project: Demonstrate reduction in vitamin A deficiency in both countries

Primary Findings (2009): Vitamin A DeficiencyMozambiqueUganda

Additional Findings Medium Term SurveysIn Uganda, about half of those growing orange sweet potato still growing them in 2011In Mozambique, less success continuing to grow them by 2012BUTAlso find a statistically significant difference between vitamin A intakes among one treatment group and the control in 2012 (mothers and children)Can attribute difference to OFSP consumption

Summary and Directions for ResearchMajor grains are actually quite available and likely will be in 2050However, there is need for additional investment in breeding on two levelsTraditional, more nutritious crops (pulses and legumes; vegetables)Yield gains have lagged those of major grainsFurther effort on biofortified crops in future to fill in micronutrient gaps