GFAR at the AARES conference

A number of academics and PhD students from Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR)  are looking forward to presenting their papers at the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES) 2019 annual conference starting from 13th to 15th February in Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre. This blog outlines the various talks and presentations that GFAR team members will give at the conference.

 Day one, Wednesday, 13th February 2019

Prof. Randy Stringer is leading a project funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)aiming to more effectively promote the growth and development of Indonesia’s fresh fruit and vegetable value chains, focusing specifically on ways smallholders and rural communities can participate and benefit. One of the objectives of the project is to examine the patterns, determinants and effects of successful fresh fruit and vegetable value chain upgrading which includes looking at continuity of newly adopted hybrids. A small amount of literature has examined whether smallholder farmers continue to use the newly adopted hybrid varieties over time and how its impact on small farmers’ income. GFAR PhD student Apri Sayekti will present a paper titled ‘Hybrid varieties adoption, continuity, and the impact on farmer’s income: The case of chilli in Indonesia’ co-authored with Prof. Randy Stringer and Dr. Di Zengthat is looking at identifying the continuity of hybrid seed adoption and the specific constraints of chilli hybrid seed use. This study explores the dynamics in hybrid chilli variety adoption by testing for structural change in the choice for hybrid seeds using a two-period panel data set of 597 chili producers in Indonesia. Identifying the adoption dynamics of hybrid chilli varieties can support policy and program initiative to improve seed system. Results will inform the seed research programs and insights for seed types that are demanded by farmers. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon C, Level 1 in the contributed paper session 1a from 1 PM to 2.30 PM.

Water markets are widely adopted within Australia and have decades of use and adoption by irrigators to manage water scarcity. In the past decade they have also been used as a tool to reallocate water from consumptive to environmental uses, with the Commonwealth government buying permanent water back (‘buyback’) and subsidizing irrigation infrastructure to recover water. The buyback policy has been highly controversial, with many lobby groups and analysts claiming that this has had a significant impact of increasing both permanent and temporary water prices. However, to date there has been a lack of study on the true long-term dynamics of water market changes, mainly because of the paucity of data. Assoc. Prof. Alec Zuo will present a paper titled ‘The Impact of Government Intervention in Water Markets in Australia: insights from examining dynamic interactions and volatility spillovers’ co-authored with Feng Qui and Prof. Sarah Wheeler. This study undertakes VARX-BEKK-GARCH time-series models of both monthly permanent and temporary trade from 1997-2017 in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District, Murray-Darling Basin, to provide the first detailed analysis of price and volume dynamics. Model results found a significantly negative impact on temporary volume-traded from government intervention (e.g. a 1% increase in the volume recovered from buyback and irrigation infrastructure grants resulted in a 0.11% reduction in water volume-traded), but no significant impact on temporary prices, nor any significant impact on permanent water markets. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon F, level 1, in the contributed paper session themed on natural resource management from 1 pm to 2.30 pm.

Prof. Sarah Wheeler along with Jason Alexandra has organised a policy session on Putting some facts on the table in regard to water policy and reform in the Murray-Darling Basin’. This session will take place in Room Clarendon D&E, level 4 from 2.35 to 3.15 pm.

Childhood under nutrition, particularly stunting, wasting and micro-nutrient deficiencies, remains a major health concern in rural communities in Vietnam. While literature suggests leveraging agriculture to improve child nutrition via agricultural diversification, market engagement, and women’s empowerment, very few studies have explored how smallholder vegetable production can influence children’s nutrition. Prof. Wendy Umberger will present a paper titled ‘The impact of smallholder vegetable production on child nutrition in rural Vietnam‘ co-authored with PhD student Christian Genova, Suzie Newman, Dr. Alexandra Peralta and Dr. Di Zeng which tries to fill this gap using a nutrition-centred approach that examines the impacts of vegetable diversity, market access, and market participation at the household level. The study uses a cross-sectional household data set, collected in 2016 in northwest Vietnam, covering 234 children aged 6 to 60 months. The results suggest that smallholder vegetable production has a significant indirect effect on children’s nutrition via market participation. It is likely that additional income from selling vegetables allows households to purchase nutritious food, which is likely to have a positive impact on children’s nutrition outcomes. This research is part of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project aimed towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable systems in North West Vietnam.This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon G, level 1 in the contributed paper session themed on food and beverages from 2.35 pm to 3.15 pm.

China has emerged as a priority market for mango trade over the last decade given the rapid expansion in its middle- class population, close proximity to most of the major mango producing nations in the region and the recent expansion in domestic production and trade. While the fresh mango distribution in China is still mainly summarized by farmers-wholesalers-physical retailers, the internet is becoming increasingly popular as one of the main consumption channels for consumers, as online purchasing continues to grow at a rapid pace. Assoc. Prof. Alec Zuo  will present a paper titled Determinants of online mango retail price in China —a Hedonic approach’ co-authored with Prof. Robin Roberts. The study utilises a unique dataset collected daily from the 1 September 2017 through to 31 August 2018, capturing information from more than 1000 online sellers of mangoes marketing on two major online shopping platforms in mainland China, JD and Tmall and investigates the trade characteristics associated with the listing prices. Consumers’ preferences over different mango varieties and country of origins from the analysis are presented and the resultant outcomes useful for stakeholders engaged in the direct supply and trade of mangoes to consumers through online channels. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon D&E, level 1 in the contributed paper session themed on food and beverages from 3.45 pm to 5.15 pm.

 Day two, Thursday, 14th February 2019

Markets in rural areas of developing countries are characterised by weak institutions, resulting in price volatility, adulteration, and opportunistic behaviour. As a result, value chain actors do not trust each other. This mistrust results in producers’ lack of incentives to supply quality goods and in traders not engaging in proper trading practices. Trust among value chain actors is expected to facilitate transactions and to result in better outcomes for both producers and traders. Dr. Alexandra Peralta will present a paper titled ‘Do coffee growers trust their buyer? Experimental evidence from Uganda’ co-authored with Assoc. Prof. Robert Shupp and Cansin Arslan. This paper looks at trust among smallholder coffee growers and local coffee traders in rural Uganda. Using a trust game, the dictator game and the risk game to measure revealed trust and to control for altruism and risk aversion, and measure stated trust and stated risk attitudes using a survey instrument. The results suggest a complex relationship between trust among value chain actors, that altruism influence trust behaviour and that risk attitudes do not explain trust, we also find that attitudes towards traders have influence in stated but not revealed trust.  The research is part of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project aimed at developing value chain innovation platforms to improve food security in East and Southern Africa.  This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon C, level 1 in the contributed paper session themed on contracts and supply chain from 8.45 am to 10.15 am.

In 2017, the World Bank’s Trading across the border index (an index of trade costs) for Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan was among the highest in the world. GFAR PhD student Alfinura Sharafeyeva will present a paper titled ‘Impact of trade costs on agrifood exports in Central Asia’ that analyses the economic impact these trade costs had on agrifood exports from these countries between 2006 and 2015. The time to cross international borders, due to underdeveloped infrastructure and weak institutions, increases trade costs of agricultural goods, especially the perishable ones, which results in low competitiveness of the products at the global market. To test this premise, this study aims to explore the composition of trade costs in Central Asian countries as well as estimate their impact on agricultural trade flows, by developing and testing a set of trade cost indicators using an augmented gravity model. The findings of this work will serve as a baseline for the next stage of research – analysing trade facilitation reforms that have to be undertaken in order to reduce trade costs in the region and boost agrifood exports of the countries. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon G, ground floor, in the contributed paper session 3 theme on food, transport and trade from 8.45 am to 10.15 am. 

Prof. Wendy Umberger will present a paper titled Understanding food westernization and the contemporary drivers of nutritional diet in urban Vietnam: Results from 24-hour food diaries’ co-authored with PhD student Jesmin Rupaand Dr. Di Zeng that aims to examine the association between consumption of western foods, particularly food products consumed away-from-home and diet quality of urban consumers using intra-household data from a cross-sectional study of 1,685 households and 4,997 individuals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The study uses dependent variables of individual daily caloric intake and macronutrient shares and were calculated using a 24-hour food diary data. The collective results of this study indicated that there is a need for policymakers to be aware of factors which can lead to ‘obesogenic food environments’ and to consider relevant interventions if nutrition improvement is a long-term goal. This research is part of an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project aimed towards more profitable and sustainable vegetable systems in North West VietnamThis paper will be presented in Room Clarendon B, Level 4 in the contributed paper session 3 on the food theme from 8.45 am to 10.15 am.

Since her publication ‘Governing the commons’ in 1990, Elinor Ostrom’s design principles (DPs) have been used widely as an analytical framework to provide guidance on the development of effective institutional arrangements for the management of common pool resources (CPR). Most attempts to do this, however, lack analytical rigour. Moreover, there have been few attempts to determine the relationship between specific DPs and outcomes that CPR management institutions are expected to deliver.  GFAR PhD student Sitti Rahma Ma’Mun will present a paper titled Using Ostrom’s Design Principles to assess the robustness of institutions of common pool resources: A global comparison of irrigation management systems’ co-authored with Dr. Adam Loch and Prof. Mike Young. The research presented in this paper aims to fill this gap through the examination of fifty irrigation case studies located across twenty five countries. The analysis starts with a specified configurational model of Ostrom’s DP to develop a means to score the effectiveness of constitutive elements. Among other things, meta-analysis of the fifty case studies reveals: 1) different combination of design principles can lead to the same outcome; 2) the use of fsQCA is useful to reveal the pattern of institutional arrangement within each DP that tend to lead to robust institution of irrigation system management. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon D, Level 1, in the contributed paper session themed on natural resource management from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

Australia is at the forefront of climate change, arguably exemplified by the current drought across large parts of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.  GFAR PhD student Constantin Seidl will present a paper titled Not just money: drivers of farm adaptation by southern Murray-Darling Basin irrigators co-authored with Prof. Sarah WheelerDr. Adam Loch and Dr. Alec Zuo that explores a wide variety of different farm adaptation strategies using 2015-16 data from a telephone survey of 1000 southern Murray-Darling Basin irrigators. It explores irrigators’ planned adaptation behavior in the next five years, and driving factors across New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria for three distinct types of adaptation (expansive, accommodating and contractive). Results illustrate that drivers for farm adaptation can vary significantly depending on the type of adaptation However, farm financials (debt, income and land value) remain the most significant influence across all adaptation types. Using policy instruments tailored closely to what motivates irrigators to employ certain types of future adaptation strategies, government may improve the uptake of future farm adaptation and avoid costly one-size fits-all-policies. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon E, level 1, in the contributed paper session 4 themed on natural resource management from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

The ‘social licence to operate’ has become an increasingly popular and important term in the discourse within and between natural-resource-dependent industries and communities. It has been most widely described as the ongoing acceptance or approval of an activity by local stakeholders and the community who are affected by the activity. Much of the scholarly analysis of the social licence to operate has been conducted by academics with mining, forestry, sociology, business management and ethics expertise with fewer pieces in the scholarly literature (that explicitly refer to or describe the social licence) from the economics discipline. An additional and important characteristic of the above mentioned stakeholders and communities is that they can often also affect the profitability of the activity and have influence in the design of policy. Following this, the social licence is very much an economic problem.  GFAR PhD student Nikki Dumbrell will present a paper titled ‘Economics and the ‘social licence to operate’ for natural-resource-dependent industries’ co-authored with Dr. David Adamson,  Prof. Sarah Wheeler and Dr. Alec Zuo. This presentation is designed to share preliminary ideas about how to relate the social licence to existing economic ideas and approaches to problem-solving and seek audience input and feedback in an open discussion. This presentation will be held in Room Clarendon G, ground floor, in the contributed paper session 4 themed on environmental management from 11.00 am to 12.30 pm.

There is growing evidence that the demand for meat substitutes like plant-based products including veggie burgers is increasing in Australia, due to a variety of consumer concerns related to health, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Additionally, lab-grown products (e.g., “meat” that is made in the laboratory from animal cells) are promised in the near future. Only a few studies have examined the prevalence of consumption of meat alternatives and the factors which influence consumer choices.  GFAR PhD student Livia Padilha will present a paper titled Is there an appetite for plant-based and lab-grown “meat”? Australian consumer segmentation by food-choice motivations and perceptions of protein sources’ co-authored with Prof. Wendy UmbergerDr. Lenka Malek and Dr. Daniel Gregg which examines consumer heterogeneity in perceptions of alternative protein sources using data collected in October 2018 from a representative online survey of 1000 Australian food shoppers. Consumers are characterised into cohorts on the basis of food-choice drivers which may originate from preferences regarding perceived healthiness, taste, environmental impact, animal welfare, safety and affordability. The significance of the study relies on its contribution in exploring new sources of food, especially plant-based and lab-grown products. It also provides insights on how consumers perceive different products and future preferences for those products. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon C, level 1 in the contributed paper session themed on food from 1.30 pm to 3.00 pm.

 Day three, Friday, 15th February 2019

High-value horticultural crops generally generate higher returns at the cost of higher risk. Apart from consumption credit and crop insurance, income diversification to off-farm sources is among the common strategies for farm households to cope with risk. Previous research shows how diversification to non-farm activities enhances food security, increases agricultural production by smoothing capital constraints and helps households cope with environmental changes. However, little is known how income diversification affects child education spending, which is crucial to human capital accumulation and poverty reduction. GFAR PhD student Phassara Khamthara  will present a paper titled ‘The impacts of risk and time preferences on off-farm income and child education investment: Evidence from Indonesian horticultural farmers’ co-authored with Dr. Di ZengProf. Randy Stringer and Abdul Hasibuan which aims to investigate the linkages between risk preference, off-farm income diversification and education spending among high-value horticultural farming households. The paper also incorporates gender perspectives and analyzes both husband’s and wife’s risk preference which may have heterogeneous impacts. This paper aims to provide an empirical analysis regarding how risk preference among high-value horticultural crop adopters contributes to household education investment through income diversification, and potentially provide policy answers to this important question. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon F, level 1 in the contributed paper session themed on women and families in agriculture from 8.30 am to 10.00 am.

Prof. Wendy Umberger is leading a project funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)that is aimed at improving dairy productivity in Indonesia. Most of the domestic milk supply is produced in small dairy farms with an average herd size two to three dairy cows per farm, producing around 10 litres of relatively low-quality milk per cow per day. Adoption of agricultural innovations are still low, particularly among smallholder dairy farmers in Indonesia. Despite a significant amount of literature on the adoption of agricultural technologies, most of the previous studies have focused on the adoption of a single technology and employed univariate analysis in understanding the significant factors that associate with the adoption decisions.  However, farmers are more likely to adopt multiple technologies as complements or substitutes and to maximise their expected benefit from the adoption decisions while constrained by their limited budget and access to information. GFAR PhD student Rida Akzar will present a paper titled ‘Adoption of multiple dairy farming technologies by the Indonesian smallholder dairy farmers: A latent class analysis approach’ co-authored with Prof. Wendy Umberger and Dr. Alexandra Peralta which aims to contribute to the literature by studying adoption of multiple technology bundles and its implications in the design of strategies to improve dairy extension programs in Indonesia. The study uses data from a recent survey of 600 dairy farm households conducted in August 2017 in West Java, Indonesia and analyses the pattern of adoption of multiple technologies at the farm-level. Results from Latent Class Cluster analyses suggest that there are two distinct clusters of smallholder farmers based on the adoption status of the dairy technologies, reflecting that smallholder farmers are in different stages of adoption. Socio-demographic characteristics of the smallholder farmers help explain why these clusters are different in technologies they adopted. This paper will be presented in Room Clarendon C, level 1 in the contributed paper session 7 themed on Indonesia from 10.30 am to 12.00 pm.

Apart from presenting their research papers, GFAR PhD students Alfinura SharafeyevaSitti Rahma Ma’MunConstantin SeidlLivia Padilha and Rida Akzar will also compete in the 3 Minute Thesis competition. The competition will be held in Room Clarendon C, level 1 from 12.30 pm to 1.00 pm.

We will be tweeting live from the conference so be sure to follow us on Twitter to get live updates.

Tagged in Event highlights, Student contributions