Characteristics, Transaction Costs, and Adoption of Modern Varieties in Honduras (Draft)

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Title: Characteristics, Transaction Costs, and Adoption of Modern Varieties in Honduras (Draft)
Author: Hintze, Luis Hernando
Advisors: Dr. Daniel Hallstrom, Committee Member
Dr. Daniel Phaneuf, Committee Member
Dr. Mitch Renkow, Committee Co-Chair
Dr. Gerald Carlson, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: This dissertation researches the factors contributing to the low levels of adoption of improved maize varieties and the choice of maize varieties among small farmers in Honduras. An agricultural household model is developed. It explicitly incorporates two explanations from the adoption literature that have not yet been tested simultaneously: (i) consumption and production characteristics of different varieties as perceived by farmers, and (ii) transaction costs and access to markets. The empirical analysis also considered additional variables that have been used by previous adoption studies related to household characteristics, human and financial capital, and environmental characteristics. To test the model, information was collected in a survey of 167 farmers located across 34 villages in two distinctly different agro-ecological zones in Honduras. From non-parametric analysis of the information regarding farmers' perception of maize characteristics, four conclusions were drawn: (i) Farmers perceive differences among varieties for some of the characteristics they consider to be important; (ii) varieties that are widely used tend to be regarded as having good performance with respect to the most important characteristics; (iii) sometimes, varieties that are widely used are outperformed by other varieties for some of the characteristics evaluated. In those cases, however, the ratings obtained by the more popular varieties indicate that they have an acceptable performance; (iv) there are important differences in how farmers in the two regions studied perceive the different varieties available to them. The empirical analyses of the determinants of household variety choice and adoption used qualitative choice models and tested the degree to which varietal characteristics contributed to adoption decisions, controlling for an array of household socioeconomic characteristics and proxy measures of village-specific marketing costs and household-specific transaction costs. Results indicate that in both regions yield was the only characteristic that consistently had a significant impact on varietal choice. On the other hand, consumption characteristics appear to play little if any role in varietal choice in either area. Transaction costs variables, particularly the quality of roads connecting villages to markets are also significant in explaining variety choice.
Date: 2003-01-20
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Agricultural and Resource Economics

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