HarvestPlus and its partners are breeding several micronutrient-rich crops for Asia including high-iron varieties of pearl millet, an important staple for poor people in India.
In their Discussion Paper published by the University of Cambridge (Investigating Farmers’ Choice of Pearl Millet Varieties in India to Inform Targeted Biofortification Interventions: Modalities of Multi-Stakeholder Data Collection), researchers from HarvestPlus and the International Food Policy Research Institute assess the factors that affect farmers’ choice of pearl millet varieties.
They sought input from multiple stakeholders and gathered data from a wide geographic area. This required some innovative data collection methods such as computer-assisted interviews using personal digital assistants and conventional “pen and paper” interviews. The researchers gathered data from multiple stakeholders in order to understand different actors’ points of view. They also compared these data to gain a more holistic insight into why farmers choose the varieties they do.
The research teams collected data in two states of India, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Preliminary results revealed significant differences across the two states in terms of the varieties grown and the factors affecting their popularity. These findings will inform the design of targeted interventions to maximize the adoption of micronutrient-rich pearl millet varieties in India, which are planned for release in 2012.