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Demand for drought tolerance in Africa: selection of drought tolerant maize seed using framed field experiments

Recent projections on the impact of climate change argue that eastern and southern Africa will experience dramatic reductions in maize yields by mid‐century. This research paper argues that such studies have not taken farmer adaptation of cropping practices or land reallocation into consideration. The author studies a sample of smallholder Kenyan farmers using framed field experiments in order to achieve quantified results in this relevance.

The paper particularly examines the impact of behavioural determinants on the contingent selection of improved maize technologies designed with specific attributes to reduce yield loss associated with drought stress. The document finds that:

  • there are evidence that farmers are willing to pay for new varieties with superior yield performance including performance that is superior only under drought stress
  • however, the willingness to pay for drought tolerance and other attributes is highly heterogeneous
  • indeed, only sixty percent of the sample expresses a willingness to pay for these attributes at levels consist with observed market prices for hybrid seed 
  • furthermore, there are segments of farmers that are seed‐price sensitive, which may limit technology purchase and the eventual impact of adaptation strategy

As a result, conclusions are: 

  • an innovative public‐private partnership that develop drought tolerant varieties could provide the technology royalty free to African smallholder producers
  • this mechanism may allow for the segment of consumer, desiring the trait, but unwilling to pay market relevant prices to access the potential benefits
  • consequently, defining this segment with readily observable characteristics will improve targeting if non-market interventions are pursued