Salt-tolerant rice variety adoption in the Mekong River Delta
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Rice production plays an important role in the economy of the Mekong River Delta (MRD), but rice production is endangered by sea-level rise and the associated increased incidence of salinity intrusion. This study examines the diffusion of salt-tolerant rice varieties (STRVs) in the MRD that were promoted through Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environment (CURE) activities. Evidence is found of widespread adoption in salinity-prone areas, with CURE related varieties covering 47% of rice area in at least one of two growing seasons surveyed, but that adopting areas are highly clustered. Multivariate analysis reveals that location characteristics associated with high risk of salinity inundation, rather than individual characteristics associated with household risk preferences, explain the observed pattern of adoption in the MRD. In particular, CURE-related varieties are disproportionately likely to be adopted in non-irrigated areas and in irrigated areas that are not protected by salinity barrier gates. The results imply that CURE has effectively targeted unfavorable rice growing environments and that efforts to further diffuse STRVs need to both increase the area of suitability through further varietal adaptation and promote adoption in existing suitable areas by taking advantage of strong neighborhood externalities in household adoption decisions. In terms of varietal performance, inconclusive evidence is found of higher yields of CURE-related varieties in a low-salinity year. Further, any yield gains are more than off-set by lower market prices for CURE-related varieties.
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