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Abstract

Potential poverty traps among the rural poor suggest a need to reduce poor farmers' vulnerability by stabilizing crop yields and limiting yield losses. Advances in agricultural biotechnology enable breeders to address this need more directly than ever before with crops that reduce production risk by tolerating climate fluctuation or resisting biotic stresses. Will poor farmers who could benefit most from less vulnerability choose to purchase such risk-reducing seeds? I use data from a household survey and experiment involving farmers in India to infer their valuation of changes in the mean, variance, and skewness of yield distributions. I conclude that these farmers value increases in expected yield in the yield distribution but seem indifferent about changes in higher moments of the distribution. Farmer traits such as wealth and risk exposure affect farmers' valuation of changes in yield distributions only mildly.

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