Prof Marc Willinger asks « Does developing new technologies with farmer groups increase their social capital ? »

Posted on March 11, 2020


With generous support from the National Research Foundation (Grant Number 120587), the the Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa (CEEPA) hosted Prof. Willinger between 26 February and 9 March 2020. Prof Marc Willinger is a professor of economics at the University of Montpellier (UM) and member of the Center for Environmental Economics of Montpellier (CEE-M). His main research focus is experimental and behavioural economics with applications to environmental and resource economics. Within these domains, he uses laboratory and field experiments to study risk-taking behaviour and social preferences in the context of social dilemmas and asymmetric information.

Prof Willinger’s activities during the visit included the lecture “Why do risk-averse farmers live in risky areas?” presented to staff and researchers at the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development to motivate inclusion of experimental economics in the graduate teaching curriculum. Prof Willinger also presented a one-day hands-on workshop on experimental economics to 24 graduate students drawn from the Department as well as from the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences.

In collaboration with CEEPA staff, and with support from the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) in Limpopo, Prof Willinger will co-supervise an MSc student from the Department. This student will use a “lab in the field experiment” approach to analyse the impact of a development project on social capital formation among rural smallholder farmers in the Limpopo Province. AWARD is an NGO with a long history of working with smallholder farmers in the Olifants catchment. In this connection, Prof Willinger participated in a field trip organised by CEEPA to discuss the research details with the relevant stakeholders. “We are excited to work with Prof Willinger to expand our knowledge, to train students, and to address some of the challenges that smallholders face through this type of research.”

- Author Damien Jourdain and Eric Mungatana
Published by Melissa van der Merwe

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