Discussion Paper

Farmers' Preferences for Crop Variety Traits: Lessons for On-Farm Conservation and Technology Adoption

Jul 20, 2009 | Sinafikeh Asrat, Mahmud Yesuf, Fredrik Carlsson, Edilegnaw Wale

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


Although in-situ conservation is increasingly considered an efficient way of conserving plant genetic resources, little is known about the incentives and constraints that govern conservation decisions among small farm holders in developing countries. Using a choice experiment approach, we investigated Ethiopian farmers’ crop variety preferences, estimated the mean willingness to pay for each crop variety attribute, and identified household-specific and institutional factors that governed the preferences. We found that environmental adaptability and yield stability are important attributes for farmers’ choice of crop varieties. Farmers are willing to forgo some income or output in order to obtain a more stable and environmentally adaptable crop variety. Among other things, household resource endowments (particularly land holdings and livestock assets), years of farming experience, and contact with extension services are the major factors causing household heterogeneity of crop variety preferences. Based on our experimental results, we derived important policy implications for onfarm conservation, breeding priority setting, and improved variety adoption in Ethiopia.