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Participatory Evaluation

In evaluating technologies for agricultural research, administering a complete household and agricultural survey may not be an effective approach because some of the interventions are done on small plots with few participants. Even where survey data on profitability exist, participatory evaluation may provide additional information on farmers’ perceptions, which then may be used to validate the survey data output or make comparisons.

How to operationalize the metric

Method of data collection and data needed to compute the method:

Soliciting information from farmers on the potential of the technology is required and this may be accomplished through a focus group or at an individual level. Data from this assessment will include examining or eliciting the following information:

  1. Farmer’s preference between the local (current) and new technology. This may be done by ranking or rating the technologies. 
  2. Whether farmers  think the technology might be profitable if adopted. This must be done while considering the costs of inputs plus ability to market output from the new technology. The farmer indicates whether the new technology will be more profitable compared to the local technology, considering additional costs and benefits.
  3. The potential for the farmer to allocate land on his/her farm to this technology and, if so, what percentage may be allocated to the new technology.
  4. Whether the farmer intends to sell the output from the new technology to the market or use if for home consumption and, if so, what proportion?

From these questions, the farmers may be asked to rate the technology in terms of profitability. These ratings for example may be 1=low profitability, 2= intermediate, and 3=high profitability. In some cases, where the criteria for a technology are being assessed after trial, some of the reported criteria can be mapped to the profitability indicator. For example, farmers may indicate that the technology is “produced with little money compared to local technology” (Bellon, 2001). 

Unit of analysis:

Unit of analysis will be the average rating of the profitability of technology from farmers participating in the evaluation. If there is a high value, then the technology is profitable. Where a large number of households are randomly selected to participate in the evaluation, the distribution of the measure of profitability may be estimated for inference. Tests such as the Kruskal Wallis test may be used to determine whether the distribution functions across groups (wealth groups) are identical. 

Limitations regarding estimating and interpreting:

Using participatory evaluations may require training of scientists on how to select the population of study and collect data. This may not be a limitation but it may help the researcher to establish any additional value using this approach may provide, especially as it relates to the input cost and value of output to compute gross margin or net income. 

Shortcomings regarding estimation and interpretation of the indicator

Estimation of profit and gross margin requires proper bookkeeping to ensure that all costs or required variable costs are captured.  We recommend that required expertise from an economist should be sought when choosing between the two measures of profitability.

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