Please join us for the Change Seminar *Tuesday 10/23/2018 *in *JHN 111.* *Who:* Matt Ziegler *What:* Fresh Insights: User Research Towards a Market Information System for Bihari Vegetable Farmers *When: *Tuesday, Oct 23rd, 12-1pm *Where: *Johnson Hall 111
*Abstract: Fresh Insights: User Research Towards a Market Information System for Bihari Vegetable Farmers* Agricultural Market Information (MI) services provide users with convenient access to price information and have demonstrated potential to improve smallholder farmers’ incomes. Some recent evaluations of MI systems, however, have shown disappointing results and brought forth many complicating factors. Cautious of the mixed literature, we consider the possibility of an MI service extension to Loop, a shared transport-to-market service for smallholder farmers selling vegetables and other perishable produce. We use Buxar, Bihar, India as a case study to investigate the potential effectiveness and likely limitations of an MI service for improving smallholder farmers’ livelihoods. We present evidence from interviews with 17 farmers and 3 commission agents as well as interface prototyping exercises. Consistent with “information scarcity” and “information asymmetry” theories, we found that many farmers in this area regularly use mobile phones to check prices for choosing markets and negotiation. Participants also reported increases in the numbers of traders and price stabilization since the arrival of mobile phones. However, we found many other diverse factors which often supersede the importance of market prices and present barriers to market access including time and convenience, unfamiliarity with new markets, lack of connections, personal relationships, market gluts and price crashes, production volume, attitudes towards risk, credit relationships, and danger. Finally, we present findings from exploratory user-interface studies for addressing some market-access barriers including price volatility, market connections, transportation, and payoff estimation. *Speaker bio:* Matt Ziegler is a 1st-year PhD student in computer science at the University of Washington, working at the crossroads of ICTD and environmental studies. Combining backgrounds as a biologist, environmental researcher and computer scientist, Matt's research interests include environmental justice, computational tools for natural resource management, and technologies for community governance of conservation projects. Matt has worked in primate behavioral ecology, environmental education, and insect biodiversity, and recently held internships at Mensrupedia and at Digital Green.
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