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Sergio Puerto

PhD Candidate in Applied Economics

Cornell University

: 410 Warren Hall, Ithaca NY, 14850

: sap257@cornell.edu


About me:


I am an applied microeconomist who studies the impact of technology on economic development and sustainability. I am part of the priority-setting team at the Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement (ILCI).

Hire me! I am on the 2023/24 Job Market

My current CV: Here

My Job Market Paper : Here |

-> JMP coverage: World Bank Blog | New Things Under the Sun | ILCI

Biases in research and development create a mismatch between the attributes of new agricultural technology and the preferences of farmers. In this paper, I estimate the impact of this mismatch on farmers’ adoption of new drought-resistant seeds. Using a randomized controlled trial in Costa Rica, I recreated counterfactual scenarios for innovators’ seed development decisions by offering some farmers seed matching their preferences and others a seed variety chosen by crop scientists as a blanket recommendation. Results show that mismatch has a significant impact on adoption, with 41% lower uptake among farmers who were offered the recommended new seed. This gap was larger for farms located farther from the research lab where the new seeds were developed, and persisted even in areas with drought exposure. Moreover, the new seed varieties were 31% more productive among farmers who adopted their preferred seed. To explain these findings, I propose a model where research constraints limit innovators' ability to account for farmer heterogeneity. Matching new seeds to farmer preferences relaxes those constraints, and improves productivity by enabling better adaptation to specific farm-level conditions, which are usually private information unknown to innovators. These findings highlight that agricultural innovation is often shaped by innovators’ priorities rather than demand-side signals, especially in developing countries.

My work at ILCI: Here



Published and Forthcoming Papers:


2024 - Trait prioritization in crop breeding programs: a scoping review on tools and methods

Nature Plants

with Martina Occelli, Rishabh Mukerjee, Christian Miller, Jaron Porciello, Elisabeth Garner, Mauricio Guerra, Miguel Gómez, and Hale Ann Tufan


2023 - The role of collective action in the cacao sector in enhancing sustainability, market upgrading and agro-biodiversity conservation

Environmental Research Letters

with Ximena Rueda and Romaike Middendorp


2022 (R&R) - Risk-reducing incentives and preventive technologies in pasture-based dairy farming

Revise & Resubmit to American Journal of Agricultural Economics

with Miguel I. Gomez, Francisco Leal-Yepes, Sabine Mann, and Jessica McArt


2021 - Regrouping to Reduce Overfishing: Evidence from a Series of Lab-in-the-Field Experiments in Mexico

Marine Resource Economics

with Andreas Leibbrandt and Maria Alejandra Vélez


2020 - Blood β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations and early lactation management strategies on pasture-based dairy farms in Colombia

Preventive Veterinary Medicine

with Francisco A. Leal Yepes et al.


2019 - Testing the Alchian–Allen theorem for three goods using the pseudo Poisson model

Agricultural Economics

with Dragan Miljkovic, Miguel I. Gómez, and Anupa Sharma


2016 - Leadership, entrepreneurship and collective action: A case study from the Colombian Pacific Region

International Journal of the Commons

with Ivan Lobo and Maria Alejandra Vélez



Teaching:


> Instructor of record - Spring 2023

ECON 3550: Economics of Developing Countries

Cornell University

Syllabus: Here


> Teaching Assistant - Fall 2022

AEM 4110: Introduction to Econometrics

Instructor: Lauren Tauer

Cornell University


> Teaching Assistant - Fall 2016

Fundamentals of Behavioral Sciences (Masters level)

Instructor: Maria Alejandra Vélez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia


> Teaching Assistant - Spring 2015 - Spring 2016

Environmental and Natural Resources Economics (Masters level)

Instructor: Maria Alejandra Vélez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia


    Wololo!

I hope you enjoy my website. This JavaScript wrapper mimics the original Windows 95' operating system.


You can use the < Start > button, or click on the icons in the desktop to navigate. You can also move, rearrange, resize and close windows. If you encounter any issue just reload the page.


Everything here is mine, except all the things I borrowed to avoid hard-coding this.


  Credits:

> Shout-out to Victor Ribeiro, who develop the web components for the fake opereating system (FOS project).

> Icons art froms Artage.io



    > Instructor of Record - Spring 2023
    ECON 3550: Economics of Developing Countries
    Cornell University
    Syllabus [here]

    > Teaching Assistant, Fall 2022
    AEM 4110: Introduction to Econometrics
    Instructor: Lauren Tauer

    > Teaching Assistant, Fall 2016
    Fundamentals of Behavioral Sciences
    Masters in Management Research
    Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
    Instructor: Maria Alejandra Vélez

    > Teaching Assistant, Spring 2015 - Spring 2016
    Environmental and Natural Resources Economics
    Masters in Environmental Management
    Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
    Instructor: Maria Alejandra Vélez

Click here to see my CV in a new window


Job-Market paper
Publications
Working papers

  . run research.do


> Innovation frictions and technological mismatch in developing countries' agriculture (Job Market Paper)


Innovation in agriculture is a stepping stone for economic development, yet poor farmers are reluctant to adopt seemingly profitable new inputs and practices. It is often overlooked that new technologies are not usually tailored to the needs of low-income farmers, the absence of mechanisms crowding-out inappropriate technology may contribute to the slow pace of technological change observed in developing countries' agriculture. To test this, I conducted a two-stage randomized controlled trial to estimate the effect of technological mismatch on farmers' adoption of improved seeds in Costa Rica.

The experiment simulated counterfactual scenarios for researchers' seed development decisions, in which some farmers received an offer to purchase a new drought-resistant variety that matched their preferences. For comparison, other farmers were offered a recommended but unknown new variety. Results show that preference-driven mismatch reduces almost in half farmers' adoption of new seeds. Take-up among farmers offered the recommended variety is 44% lower compared to targeted farmers (see figure below).


Figure 1 reports the average take-up rate across treatments groups and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals. Take-up is defined as a farmer purchasing the variety offered in the intervention. The horizontal dashed line shows the seed replacement rate. Significance based on difference in means tests: *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1.


Further, I find no impact of learning-by-doing and biased performance beliefs on take-up. Instead, mismatch effects can be explained by how innovators prioritize local adaptation efforts, and the resulting technology's features. These findings suggest that improvements in making agriculture more productive or climate-resilient may fail in the long run because the current output of agricultural innovations, carrying those crucial traits, is not good enough to induce adoption among low-income farmers.



Peer-reviewed publications:


2023 - The role of collective action in the cacao sector in enhancing sustainability, market upgrading and agro-biodiversity conservation

with Ximena Rueda and Romaike Middendorp

Environmental Research Letters


2021 - Regrouping to Reduce Overfishing: Evidence from a Series of Lab-in-the-Field Experiments in Mexico

with Andreas Leibbrandt and Maria Alejandra Vélez

Marine Resource Economics


2020 - Blood β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations and early lactation management strategies on pasture-based dairy farms in Colombia

with Francisco A. Leal Yepes et al.

Preventive Veterinary Medicine


2019 - Testing the Alchian–Allen theorem for three goods using the pseudo Poisson model

with Dragan Miljkovic, Miguel I. G´omez, and Anupa Sharma

Agricultural Economics


2016 - Leadership, entrepreneurship and collective action: A case study from the Colombian Pacific Region

with Ivan Lobo and Maria Alejandra Vélez

International Journal of the Commons


Working papers:


Risk-reducing incentives and preventive technologies in pasture-based dairy farming

with Miguel I. Gomez et al.

Review and Resubmit to American Journal of Agricultural Economics

Many of the world's low-income farmers are vulnerable to uncertain productive conditions but have limited options to manage risk. This paper studies the relationship between risk aversion and ketosis, a metabolic disorder that negatively affects dairy farming. We identified farmers' risk preferences and their willingness to pay for information about cows' health status (WTP) using a lab-in-the-field experiment in Colombia. We also collected blood samples from dairy cows to test for the prevalence of the disease. Results show a lower likelihood of ketosis in cows managed by risk-averse farmers, which is consistent with a self-protection strategy under uncertainty. Further, experimental data show a positive relationship between risk aversion and WTP, which is comparable to investments in animal health di- agnostic equipment. Moreover, we find no significant differences in management across farmers' risk profiles, with the exception of some heterogeneous effects of concentrate feed and preventative care, consistent with a self-protection strategy to mitigate productivity risk.


Trait prioritization in crop breeding programs: a scoping review on tools and methods

with Martina Occelli et al.

Review and Resubmit to Nature Plans

Trait prioritization studies have guided research, development, and investment decisions for public sector crop breeding programs since the 1970s, but the research design, methods and tools underpinning these studies are not well-understood. We used PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic review and Meta-Analysis Protocols) to evaluate research on trait ranking for major crops over the past forty years. Data extraction and descriptive analysis on 331 papers show uneven attention of crops, lack of systematic sex-disaggregation, and regional bias. The lack of standardized trait data taxonomy across studies, inconsistent research design, and data collection practices make cross comparison of findings impossible. In addition, network mapping of authors and donors shows patterns of concentration and presence of silos within research areas. This study contributes to the next generation of innovation in trait preference to produce. more inclusive, demand-driven varietal design that moves beyond trait prioritization focused on productivity and yield.


Labor rationing under non-separation: Examining the impacts of Ethiopia’s travel ban on rural workers

I study the impact of labor supply shocks on rural markets. Using a natural experiment in Ethiopia, I show that a travel ban on migrant workers pushed rural labor markets into sub-optimal allocations of on- and off-farm labor.


Measuring the Heterogeneous Effects of Input Subsidies on Household Outcomes: Evidence from Malawi

with Christone Nyondo et al.

We investigate the effect of a nation-wide input subsidy program on the productivity and income of rural households. Our findings suggest that while older farmers are more likely to receive inputs, younger farmers are relatively more productive as a consequence of the program.



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