Efficient investment in food system research necessitates an understanding of the costs and potential benefits of alternative projects. Estimating the ex-ante returns to technological innovation requires information on the financial benefits over the status quo, the likelihood of adoption and the time lag between development and widescale penetration in target environments. Combining this information with the costs of the project allows calculation of the benefits accruing to producers and consumers.
The economics project is designed to provide strategic information to the management team as they assess alternative project proposals and research strategies. Owing to the value-chain strategy of the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab, this project requires skills to assess the impact of embodied technologies like new seed varieties, crop and resource management techniques and consumer demand for new food products. Many projects in the economics portfolio are designed to examine one element of the innovation challenge and are ideally suited for student projects.
Timothy Dalton Manzamasso Hodjo
Keith Fuglie Etaferahu Kassa Ejetu
Yacob Zereyesus Tebila Nakelese
Kansas State University
Ethiopia - Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
Niger - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN)
Senegal - Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA)
Director of the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab
Professor of Agricultural Economics
Sorghum and millet farmers face numerous challenges to improve productivity including biotic and abiotic production constraints, market access and competing usages for labor and time. Understanding the opportunities and challenges for new agricultural technologies to alleviate some of these constraints is one area of inquiry in the economics portfolio. Many studies in this area conduct ex-ante and ex-post assessments of new seeds and crop and resource management techniques.
A second area of inquiry is on understanding the opportunities for adding value to sorghum and pearl millet through food processing and new food product development. Sorghum and pearl millet are important substitutes for expensive alternatives like wheat and teff. Considerable research examines consumer demand for new food products and the development of new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
A third line of study examines the trends in sorghum and pearl millet production, consumption and trade at regional and international levels. These trends are complemented with strategic reviews on the factors affecting agricultural productivity including the impact of investment trends.
Several studies have been completed to better understand the potential welfare impact of alternative investment strategies. A meta-analysis on the returns to research investment in sorghum and millet science found a average rate of return across all studies ranging from 54-76% even within austere growing environments. Dr. Tebila Nakelse completed a dissertation studying the demand for extruded food products manufactured by small-scale entrepreneurs in Niger. This research segmented the urban consumer market and found that there were two main segments of the market. One segment was willing to pay a premium for extruded products that reduced cooking time while the second did not. The segment valuing the extruded product was wealthier and employed in the formal sector while the price-conscious group, the majority of consumers, were generally poorer and younger.
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Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles du Senegal (ISRA)
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN)