New Wheat Varieties and Small Farmers

The distribution of the benefits of new agricultural technologies is the subject of continuing controversy, especially following the widespread adoption of new wheat and rice varieties in developing countries over the last 10-15 years. This paper is motivated by the popular belief that the introduction of the new wheat varieties has benefited the rich at the expense of the poor (see, for example, Pearse; and Simmonds). We believe that the available evidence on the impact of the new wheat varieties supports a quite different conclusion--that the poor have benefited substantially from these new varieties. Here we summarize evidence on only one aspect of the distribution of benefits from new wheat varieties, the distribution of benefits to poor producers relative to larger producers (Byerlee and Harrington). Conceptual issues in analyzing these benefits are discussed and empirical evidence, especially new evidence appearing since 1975, is presented from Mexico, India, and other countries where the new wheat varieties are widely used.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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