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Economic and livelihood impacts of maize research in hill regions in Mexico and Nepal: including a method for collecting and analyzing spatial data using Google Earth

Author: La Rovere, R.
Author: Mathema, S.B.
Author: Dixon, J.
Author: Aquino Mercado, P.R.
Author: Gurung, K.
Author: Hodson, D.P.
Author: Flores Velazquez, D.
Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-970-648-167-2
Abstract: To fully assess the impact of new technologies on farmers we need to shift the focus of research from ‘crops’ or ‘commodities’ to the impact pathway which links improved crop germplasm and management to household well-being. Household well-being includes factors such as food security, more income, and the stocks and flows of household assets. A livelihoods approach to impact assessment (IA) augments the conventional practice of assessing impact because it captures a wider range of factors that affect the livelihoods of farmers than conventional IA, which often only examines improvements in crop productivity and returns. Taking this innovative approach, CIMMYT recently completed two studies on the impacts of maize research in the hill regions of Mexico and Nepal. The two case studies provide lessons for assessing impact through a livelihoods lens to complement economic assessments. The research projects and the present impact study generated a number of International Public Goods: methods for spatial analysis, methods for participatory research with farmers applied to IA, and capacity-building of farmers in maize selection and for IA research based on a livelihoods approach. The first study, described in depth in this paper, assesses the impacts of research by CIMMYT and a Mexican partner, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), during the late 1990s in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. The objectives of this research were to raise productivity, preserve the diversity of traditional criollo maize landraces, provide training, demonstrate maize production practices, and promote post-harvest technologies. In 2006, a study was launched to assess the impacts of this research, to examine the changes in farmers’ livelihoods that resulted from the project, and to learn how such research projects can have more impact in the future. The study sought to capture the impacts of the project, in terms of the use of criollo maize, the use farmers made of training, and the use of post-harvest technology (silos). This was done by collecting and analyzing data on indicators of farmers’ livelihoods and economic status. The results were examined for participant and non-participant farmers, and for different household wealth categories characterized through the IA study itself. Reducing poverty by developing and selecting local and improved maize germplasm was just one of the goals of the research project. Other important objectives were to expand the knowledge on maize diversity, and generate and test participatory research methods. Although the benefits of these are hard to quantify, the IA should take account of these effects in the overall assessment. The second study, to assess the impacts of the Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) in Nepal, used a similar mix of qualitative and quantitative tools to those used in the Oaxaca study. In Nepal, CIMMYT and partners developed and tested improved varieties through participatory research. The Nepal study captures the outcomes and impacts of the participatory research projects in terms of maize productivity, food security, community-based seed production, empowerment, social inclusion, and the institutionalization of participatory research. The Mexico study in the area of origin of maize indicates that there is a moderate use of improved maize and some impact on poverty, but that the area of maize has shrunk and that maize is less important as a commercial crop. In contrast, improved maize varieties in Nepal play an increasingly important role in improving livelihoods. In Nepal maize is also a way of improving the livelihoods of marginalized farmers in the hill areas, and low-caste women.
Format: PDF
Language: English
Publisher: CIMMYT
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Book
Country focus: Mexico
Country focus: Nepal
Region: North America
Region: South Asia
Place of Publication: Mexico
Pages: vii, 24 pages
Agrovoc: MAIZE
Agrovoc: MAIZE

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This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Maize
    Maize breeding, phytopathology, entomology, physiology, quality, and biotech
  • Socioeconomics
    Including topics such as farming systems, markets, impact & targeting, innovations, and GIS

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