photo credit: World Bank
Asymmetry of information is a fundamental problem in agricultural markets. Production contracts remain incomplete if product quality attributes measured by the buying company remain unobservable for the selling farmer. Opportunistic buyers would report lower than actual output quality, negatively affecting farmers’ compensation given it is directly linked to quality. When farmers factor in the buyer’s opportunistic behavior, underinvestment may occur, negatively affecting farm productivity.
Risk and poverty are inextricably linked. Susceptibility to risk is a defining feature of what it means to be poor. Poor people often live in environments characterized by high weather and disease risk, and it is poor households that have the fewest tools to deal with drought, floods, and disease when they occur. Breaking the link between risk and poverty by insuring poor people both lessens the affliction of poverty and allows poor people to participate in income and growth.
Producer penalties and bonuses can help reduce the incidence of side-selling and better align farmers' incentives with purchasers'. Bonuses can help ensure that farmers take the necessary measurements to produce the quality characteristics often present in contract farming arrangements. A randomized controlled experiment with milk producers in Vietnam showed that the presence of penalties and bonuses drove farmers to higher input use which resulted in higher quality milk.
Part of the constraints facing contract farming are the lack of proper procedures for measuring quality in production. If the buyer handles quality assurance then they may have an incentive to report that production was of lower quality in order to offer a lower price. The producer knowing this, in turn will lower their expectation to the income from contact farming and be less likely to contract.
Accurately assessing risk is key to providing appropriately priced loans to rural producers. This paper examines non-parametric techniques for risk scoring to avoid the erroneous rejection of credit-worthy loan applicants. Both parametric and non-parametric techniques were tested against simulated data and then evaluated on microfinance loan applicants in Peru. Because non-parametric techniques impose fewer modeling assumptions, they are able to better predict default.
Reducing food loss and waste can contribute to food security and sustainability. Measuring food loss and waste, identifying where in the food system it occurs, and developing effective policies along the value chain are essential first steps toward addressing the problem. We need to set concrete targets at regional and country levels to reduce food loss and waste. For developed countries, the focus should be on waste; for developing countries, the focus in the short term should be on food loss, but also consider best practices for reducing waste in the longer term.