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Why do we need representative samples?

A promoter in an agrodealer in Sayaxche, Petén.

Answer: For the first two and a half years of commercial sales, Semilla Nueva’s biggest limitation in impact evaluation was that we lacked a representative list of farmers to study. The farmers we surveyed were either known personally by our field technicians or had participated in promotional events, creating a biased sample. We need representative samples to confidently estimate the impacts of our seed on food security, nutrition, and income for all of the 10,000 farmer families that we reach. This allows us to learn from our successes and failures, while constantly innovating to best serve our beneficiaries.

So, how did we do it?

Semilla Nueva launched a promoter program in April 2020. Temporary local workers were hired to promote our Fortaleza F3 seed in numerous participating agrodealers where our seed is sold throughout Guatemala. These ten promoters not only promoted our seed but also recorded contact information for all farmers who purchased seed at each location. In two months, they captured information from 631 farmers at 13 agrodealers. During the 2021 sales season, we expanded this pool of promoters to 15 and collected contact information for 714 farmers.

We finally had a representative sample, now what?

The monitoring and evaluation team followed up within a week with each newly registered farmer to verify contact information and willingness to take part in follow up surveys; a total of 398 farmers agreed and we were able to interview a representative sample of 96 farmers. In 2020:

  • 76% of them bought Fortaleza F3 seed at agro-dealers that are part of our promoter program. The remaining 24% received free biofortified seed as part of our COVID-19 Seed Distribution program.
  • 93% of the surveyed farmers stored at least a portion of the Fortaleza F3 maize harvested in 2020 for their consumption.
  • 57% of the surveyed families sold at least part of their Fortaleza F3 maize.
  • 72% of maize projected to be consumed over a calendar year by the farmers surveyed was Fortaleza F3 maize.

Why does this matter?

Too many organizations do not know the impact of their work on their beneficiaries. 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 and data transparency. Semilla Nueva is focused on being different. Our monitoring and evaluation program strives to measure the most important impacts that we have on the farmers and families that we serve. Representative samples make this possible.

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