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Long-term Diffusion and Impact of Flood-tolerant Rice

Development Challenge

Smallholder farmers in South Asia often face unpredictable weather shocks that can significantly reduce crop yields limiting farmer profits and overall welfare. In Bangladesh and India, an estimated 16 percent of the land cultivated for rice is low-lying and prone to flooding. This land is also disproportionately used by the most marginalized farmers, members of Scheduled Castes or Tribes. Recent studies have indicated that flood tolerant rice helps farmers effectively cope with weather shocks, yet little is known about the long-term effects on farmers’ behavior, household welfare, and local markets.


Rice cultivation in Odisha, India often occurs in low-lying coastal areas that have a high risk for flooding. A flood-tolerant rice, Swarna-Sub1 – similar to a popular variety in the region – helps preserve yields and protect farmers if their land floods. It has been widely adopted by smallholder farmers and its short term success has been well-documented. Relative to the regular variety, Swarna-Sub1 improves yields by up to 45 percent in areas that have flooded for up to ten days with no negative effects under normal rainfall patterns. Its risk-mitigating effects have also led farmers to increase investments in other productive assets, switch to more productive planting techniques, and cultivate more land.

Evaluation Strategy

Building on previous ATAI studies, this project seeks to determine the long-term effects of Swarna-Sub1. Researchers will conduct two follow-up surveys in 2015 and 2016 among farmers who participated in two earlier randomized evaluations measuring Swarna-Sub1 adoption and yield effects. A total of 3,560 farmers will be surveyed in 128 villages in Odisha. The first survey in 2015 will primarily measure long-term adoption of Swarna-Sub1 to understand if farmers switch back to regular Swarna if they are unaffected by flooding. In 2016, the primary outcomes will focus on measuring long-term effects on agricultural practices, rice consumption, household welfare (particularly child nutrition and investment), and market prices. Swarna-Sub1 seed sales will then be conducted to identify demand for seeds.

Results and Policy Implications

Project ongoing, results forthcoming.