Effects of access to information on farmer's market channel choice: The Case of Potato in Tiraque Sub-watershed (Cochabamba - Bolivia)
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In Bolivia, potato production and marketing is important for farmers' livelihoods and anecdotal information shows that cell phones and women are extremely important in the potato marketing chain. Efforts to improve incomes of poor highland potato producers should recognize roles of different actors within the chain and access to market information. This study explores the effects of access to information and gender relations within the potato chain; on farmers' market channel choice in the Tiraque Watershed (Bolivia). The analysis of qualitative information was useful to deepen the understanding of the subject and complement quantitative analysis outcomes. The main source of data comes from a survey of 400 households from the watershed. Additionally, Rapid Market Appraisal and Case Studies were used to collect qualitative data. These data was used to estimate two econometric models (Logit and MNL) to evaluate the importance of farmers and marketing characteristics on market choices. This analysis demonstrates that the determinants that affect market channel choice include marketing (time to reach the markets and the nearest paved road), production (number of plots owned by farmers) and household related variables (access to loan, cell phone ownership, location and age of the head of the household). On the other hand, some results were different than expected, that is the case of motorized transport ownership, and literacy. Another unexpected result is that even though the qualitative analysis shows that gender plays an important role in marketing activities; the econometric analysis shows that gender has no effect on farmer's market choices.