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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