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Our Impact

Rigorous monitoring and evaluation is the most important way to ensure that we are improving the nutrition and increasing the incomes of the farming families that we serve.

We believe that a major reason why many of the world’s international development efforts have fallen short is the lack of focus on rigorous impact evaluation in data transparency.

Semilla Nueva is focused on being different. Our monitoring and evaluation program is not perfect—it’s growing just like we are—but we strive to measure the most important impacts that we have on the farmers and families that we serve. This allows us to learn from our successes and failures, while constantly innovating to best serve our beneficiaries.

201820192020
Farmers planting better corn seed @@ Using biofortified corn bag sales records, we estimate the number of farmers buying and planting better corn seed.  @@408254399936
Nutrition: % of zinc deficiency reduced @@ Using nutritional information from the INCAP along with survey data on the number of months that families consume biofortified corn, we can estimate the % of key deficiencies reduced each year. @@52%92%67%
Nutrition: iron deficiency reduced @@ Using nutritional information from the INCAP along with survey data on the number of months that families consume biofortified corn, we can estimate the % of key deficiencies reduced each year. @@ 41.5%72.8%53%
Populational impacts
# nutritious tortillas produced in Guatemala @@ Using biofortified corn bag sales records and yield data, we can estimate the amount of biofortified corn produced. @@254,232,858624,406,976901,658,200
Nutrition: % of Guatemala’s national zinc gap closed @@ Our ex-ante model allows us to calculate the deficiencies of the entire Guatemalan population. @@0.39%0.73%1.2%
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How we measure impact—step 1: Farmers

Semilla Nueva staff identifies and collects contact information from farmers who purchase biofortified corn seed and farmers who receive seed through our partnerships and emergency programs. This allows us to understand the kinds of farmers buying our seed and the average amount of seed purchased.

How we measure impact—step 2: Nutrition

Tracking nutritional impact is a multi-step process. 

First, we survey farmers who planted our seed to find out how much of the corn they ate came from our seed vs. corn from other seeds.

Second, we work with farmers and world renowned laboratories to evaluate the nutritional contents of their biofortified corn compared with their normal corn. 

Third, we work with the region’s leading nutrition think tank, INCAP, to visit families who consume biofortified corn and collect food consumption and nutrition data from women and children in those families. These surveys allow the INCAP to create a model of the nutrients missing in their diets—and how much they reduce those deficiencies when eating our more nutritious corn. 

Using this data, we can estimate the average annual reduction in nutritional deficiencies for our target populations: children, pregnant women, and lactating women.

How we measure impact—step 3: Income

In order to evaluate our impact on farmers’ incomes, our field technicians visit farmers who planted both our seed and another non-biofortified seed in the same field and with similar management. Our field technicians track how much farmers invest in their fields (costs) and the amount of corn produced by both their biofortified and non-biofortified seeds (yield) as well as sales prices (income). All of this data together allows us to track the net economic benefit of biofortified corn on farming families. To learn more about this process and dig into the data, check out our data and methodology on the Harvard Dataverse!

How we measure impact—step 4: Populational impacts (How many tortillas!)

While farmers who plant and eat biofortified corn benefit the most economically and nutritionally from our nutritious corn, our ultimate goal is to improve the nutrition of all of the poorest and most vulnerable people. Luckily we know that farmers sell most of their harvests in the market where it is purchased and consumed by vulnerable families across the country. In order to understand how many people across the country are consuming biofortified corn and how much we are improving their nutrition, we use an ex-ante impact model. The model predicts how many people eat the corn produced by our farmers, their nutritional deficiencies, and how much those deficiencies are decreased. The model allows us to calculate the deficiencies of the entire Guatemalan population, and our progress towards ensuring that every person is getting the nutrition they need. 

Because “percent of national zinc deficiency reduced” is a difficult statistic to imagine, we also publish an estimate of how many nutritious tortillas are produced by the corn from our farmers based on our sales and consumption studies.

How we measure impact—step 5: Radical transparency

Most of us came to Semilla Nueva because we wanted to do things differently. We believe in transparency and collaboration when it comes to impact and data. To this end, Semilla Nueva is working to make all of our methodologies and datasets open to the public. Links to our methodologies as well as the datasets used to calculate the numbers above can be found below. Please reach out at research@semillanueva.org if you have questions or recommendations, we’d love to hear from you!