The poor usually suffer from micronutrient malnutrition because foods that contain essential micronutrients (such as animal source foods) are generally unaffordable to them. Since poor consumers usually consume staples such as wheat, maize and rice, a good way to increase the intake of micronutrients is by adding micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin A and iron to the staples that are consumed on a daily basis. This process is known as biofortification. Biofortification could prove to be an essential strategy for combating micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries such as India, which has one of the world’s highest overall rates of malnutrition. HarvestPlus has been working in the area of biofortification of several staple crops consumed by people in developing countries. In this paper we focus on pearl millet, an important staple crop consumed by the poor in India . While biofortification adds desirable nutrients to crops, it may also alter certain pre-existing traits which farmers and consumers may value thus affecting the adoption of these varieties. In addition institutional and structural factors could affect adoption. This study assesses the factors that affect farmers’ choice of pearl millet varieties which is a precursor to the introduction and dissemination of bio-fortified varieties of pearl millet. The multi-stakeholder coverage and geographic spread of data collection, along with the necessity for strict data quality control, mandated the use of various innovative data collection and validation methods. Data was collected in two states of India, namely Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Our preliminary results reveal significant differences across the two states in terms of the varieties grown and the dynamics surrounding their popularity. These findings are expected to inform the design of efficient, effective and targeted interventions to maximize the adoption of biofortified pearl millet varieties.
Asare-Marfo, D.; Birol, E.; Roy, D. Investigating farmers’ choice of pearl millet varieties in India to inform targeted biofortification interventions: modalities of multi-stakeholder data collection. Discussion Paper Series - Environmental Economy and Policy Research, University of Cambridge. No. 51, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK (2010) 33 pp.