Welcome to the Baylis Research Group

We focus on Applied Economic Research in the fields of International Development, Agriculture, Trade, Climate Change & Environment. Our work involves exploring policy impacts on Food Security and Conservation, among others.

Dr. Kathy Baylis

Led by Dr. Kathy Baylis, Professor at the Department of Agricultural & Consumer Economics of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we focus on issues that impact countries across the world.

Research Areas

Development Economics

Development Economics

Trade Economics

Trade Economics

Environmental Economics

Environmental Economics

Agricultural Economics

Agricultural Economics

Team

Gowthami Venkateswaran

Gowthami Venkateswaran

“I am interested in studying rural food grain markets in developing countries. At present, I am researching the feasibility of certification and storage technology interventions in India to determine if certification of good storage and handling practices, and absence of mycotoxins improves the prices that millers, traders, and farmers receive for their crops, and if that, in turn, affects hermetic storage bag adoption.”

Read more about Gowthami here.

Dr. Kathy Baylis

Dr. Kathy Baylis

Kathy is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. She works on international agriculture, forestry, trade and environment, with a particular interest in understanding policy impacts on food security and conservation. She joined the department after several years as an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and earning her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 2003. Kathy has worked in agricultural policy in both Canada and the United States. In 2001/02, she was the staff economist in charge of agriculture and forestry for the Council of Economic Advisors in the White House, and in the mid-1990s, she worked as Executive Secretary with the National Farmers Union in Canada. She has helped bring in over $28 million in grants and has successfully advised and graduated over 20 graduate students. She has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters on agriculture, forestry, trade and environmental policy. She has also coauthored a textbook on Canadian and U.S. agricultural policy.

Read more about her work here and here.

Hemant Kumar Pullabhotla

Hemant Kumar Pullabhotla

“I work in Development Economics with a focus on the microeconomics of rural agricultural markets, human capital impacts of public health policies, and food security and welfare impacts of market shocks. My current research looks at the effects of missing information and market power on farmer welfare using a field experiment in India. I am also working on analyzing the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition policies on child education outcomes. In addition, I am a part of a research project looking at demand and adoption of agricultural technology by farmers and its impact on food security.”

Read more about Hemant here.

Nicolas Gatti

Nicolas Gatti

“I am interested in climate change impacts on civil conflict and food insecurity. My current work focuses on studying the mechanisms through which weather shocks affect civil conflict in Indonesia and the Philippines. I am also part of a project looking at productive efficiency in agriculture production in Zambia.”

Read more about Nicolas here.

Pallavi Shukla

Pallavi Shukla

“I am interested in the broad field of development economics as it relates to technology adoption in agriculture, food safety, food security and resilience. I am part of a large randomized control trial in India looking at the issue of aflatoxin contamination in food grains and the impact of adopting hermetically sealed bags on food safety, grain quality, grain prices and health outcomes. I am also interested in working on the overlapping issues of agriculture and nutrition. My other interests include behavioral issues and migration.”

Read more about Pallavi here.

Armand Dagbegnon Tossou

Armand Dagbegnon Tossou

“I am interested in Development and Household Economics. My current work focuses on investigating the impact on maize yields of giving voucher vs. physical input agricultural subsidies to Zambian smallholders. I am also involved in the impact evaluation of a randomized irrigation project in Haiti as well as the adoption study of a rice production technology in West Africa (Benin in particular).”

Read more about Armand here.

Yujun Zhou

Yujun Zhou

“My interest lies in the application of causal inference and machine learning methods in Development Economics and Trade. My current research aims to build a prediction model of household level food security in Sub-Saharan Africa using spatially and temporally rich data.”

Read more about Yujun here.

Pablo Ordoñez

Pablo Ordoñez

“I am interested in Environmental and Development economics. My current work focuses on deforestation, specifically looking at the adoption of conservation programs and its effects in Mexico and at the environmental and development consequences of illegal coca markets in Colombia. More generally, I am interested in studying how public policies impact poverty and the environment.”

Read more about Pablo here.

Patrese Nicole Anderson

Patrese Nicole Anderson

“I am interested in Development Economics, specifically I focus on issues related to international food security, labor, and migration. I am currently part of a large multidisciplinary research team evaluating the effects of drought hazards in subsistence agriculture in Zambia, a rapidly developing and agriculturally dependent sub-Saharan African country.”

Read more about Patrese here.

Linlin Fan

Linlin Fan

“I am an applied economist with specific interests in empirical industrial organization, food economics and policy. The overall objective of my research is to study the interactions between food prices, food retail environment and food demand. My dissertation, in particular, contributes to the rising debate in academic and policy-making circles on how to improve the quality of food purchases and consumption by changing the food geography in the United States. Specifically, it aims to understand the nature, causes, and impact of living in a U.S. food desert (i.e. low-income areas with limited access to supermarkets).”

Read more about Linlin here.

Steve Burak

Protensia Hadunka

Protensia Hadunka

“I am interested in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. My current work focuses on looking at the effects of the FISP Program on Charcoal productions and/marketing in Zambia. I am also part of the team that is currently doing a systematic review of Agroforestry studies that have been all over the world and mapping the studies to understand the study gaps.”

Read more about Protensia here.

Paavani Sachdeva

Paavani Sachdeva

“I am interested in Environmental and Resource Economics and the interaction between policy, environment and social welfare. My current work focuses on historical causes, trends and impact of food insecurity in India.”

Read more about Paavani here.

Joseph L. Murray

Joseph L. Murray

“My interests are in International Development Economics. I am currently working to gather food security and price information in the Sahel region. Also, I have been assisting the systematic review for producing an Evidence Gap Map (EGM) regarding agroforestry. This EGM will provide a consolidated source of confirmed benefits that such systems have on production, prices, environmental well-being, and human well-being.”

Read more about Joseph here.

Aditya Shrinivas

Aditya Shrinivas

“I am a PhD candidate at the Agricultural and Consumer Economics Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I work on development economics. My research centers around price analysis, food security and risk sharing. My job market paper focuses on the impact of India’s food subsidy program – Public Distribution System (PDS) – on food security. I’m also working on understanding the mechanics of the standard risk sharing test and the constraints that may be barriers to full risk sharing.”

Read more about Aditya here.

From Science to Implementation

During my summer internship, I closely observed how scientific models are combined with real-time data to generate tailored information for each farm to guide daily agricultural operations. I realize one big difference between the data science in industry settings and the work that we do in academics, is how this company’s science does not stop at the point when the model was proved to be working. Instead, the model is continuously being validated, updated, and improved for better performance in daily operations when new data or tools are coming in.

Read more here

Gowthami Venkateswaran

“I am interested in studying rural food grain markets in developing countries. At present, I am researching the feasibility of certification and storage technology interventions in India to determine if certification of good storage and handling practices, and absence of mycotoxins improves the prices that millers, traders, and farmers receive for their crops, and if that, in turn, affects hermetic storage bag adoption.”

Read more about Gowthami here.

Effects of Irrigation on Smallholder Welfare: Evidence from Haiti

Read more about the project here.

 

Charcoal Production

 

Enumerator Training

 

Haitian Ministry of Agriculture Office in Cayes

 

Irrigation Pipes

 

Irrigation Pipes

 

Irrigation Pump from Cavaillon River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effects of Irrigation on Smallholder Welfare: Evidence from Haiti

Food insecurity and hunger remain thorny challenges in Haiti, resulting from the combination of political instability, environmental degradation, poverty and natural disasters (Perez-Escamilla et al., 2009; Ivers et al., 2010; Sample, 2016). Crop yields are low even compared to the neighboring Caribbean countries resulting in low food availability. Little food production is compounded by rural poverty to limit food access for roughly 50% of Haiti’s population (USAID, 2017). Declining yields in the major staple crops, maize and rice (Ray et al., 2013) do not bode well for future food security.

The adoption literature in developing countries is replete with studies of divisible technologies such as high-yielding seed varieties and fertilizer (see Kaliba, Verkuijl, and Mwangi (2000), Gine and Yang (2009), and Duo, Kremer, and Robinson (2011)). Less is known about indivisible technologies, such as irrigation. Efficient use of indivisible technologies relies on group spillovers. In developing settings where most farmers operate farmlands under 1 hectare in size[1], not every household will be able to afford to own an irrigation pump that can irrigate ten times that land area. Economically attractive alternatives to allow smallholders access to irrigation include collective ownership (farmer groups) or market-based solutions involving private operators (perhaps large farmers who can share the technology with other farmers). Understanding how this latter arrangement may work, its effect on neighboring farmers, and which economic constraints may limit its potential is the primary goal of this study.

To improve food security in targeted geographical areas, the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR) is implementing a comprehensive agricultural support project titled Projet de Reinforcement des Services Publics Agricoles (RESEPAG II)[2], with the support of the World Bank group (WBG) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). Together with other principal investigators at the World Bank, we proposed to add an intervention on irrigation. Starting in early spring of 2018, farmers listed on a national farmers’ registry will apply for co-financing towards various inputs and technologies, including irrigation pumps. This study focuses on the irrigation pumps component.

 

Research Question

In many developing countries, expanding irrigation holds the potential to substantially increase agricultural yields, value and provide resilience to rain shortfalls. Because most irrigation schemes are large and placed in chosen locations, little causal evidence exists on the effect of irrigation on household welfare. Further, identifying the causal effect of irrigation on household outcomes is complicated by confounding attributes of the location and farmers involved. Thus, little causal evidence is available. This project is exploring the diffusion and the effects of access to irrigation services by smallholders on agricultural productivity, household food security, crop diversification and rural poverty. It also seeks to examine the interaction of irrigation with existing market access.

We propose to answer the following specific questions:

(I) What are the effects of enabling access to irrigation services on the recipients?

(ii) What factors affect the adoption of irrigation services by these farmers’ neighbors and how does access to irrigation services affect their outcomes?

(iii) How do market access and other economic characteristics impact these effects?

These effects and their underlying mechanisms will be investigated based on the following theory of change.

 

Research Design and Identification Strategy

With colleagues at the World Bank, we have designed an RCT to distribute irrigation pumps to randomly selected farmers in randomly selected farm clusters. These clusters are created based on the geographical distribution of the farm plots of the eligible applicants for the pumps. Each treated cluster has about 500 meters in radius and a distance of 2 Km is maintained between centroids of any treated cluster and its corresponding control cluster.

All farmers on the national registry who express interest in the project are considered eligible. Pumps will be allocated to about 120 randomly selected clusters. One irrigation pump will be randomly allocated to one of the applicants per cluster. Recipients are expected to become local providers of irrigation services within their respective clusters.

The intervention is anticipated to help alleviate poverty among smallholder farmers through various mechanisms such as allowing for the production of high-value crops (e.g., horticulture) in the dry season and better market participation by the households. Data will be collected both at baseline (beginning of the rainy season) and endline (end of the dry season) so that a Difference-in-Differences method can be employed to estimate the causal effects of access to irrigation services. An additional module on social networks is also planned.

 

References

Berdegue, Julio A and Ricardo Fuentealba (2011). “Latin America: The state of smallholders in agriculture". IFAD conference on new directions for smallholder agriculture. Vol. 24, p. 25.
Duo, Esther, Michael Kremer, and Jonathan Robinson (2011). \Nudging farmers to use fertilizer: Theory and experimental evidence from Kenya". The American Economic Review 101.6, pp. 2350-2390.
Gine, Xavier and Dean Yang (2009). “Insurance, credit, and technology adoption: Field experimental evidence from Malawi". Journal of development Economics 89.1, pp. 1--11.
Ivers, Louise C, Yuchiao Chang, J Gregory Jerome, and Kenneth A Freedberg (2010).
“Food assistance is associated with improved body mass index, food security and attendance at clinic in an HIV program in central Haiti: a prospective observational cohort study". AIDS research and therapy 7.1, p. 33.
Jayne, Thomas S, Takashi Yamano, Michael T Weber, David Tschirley, Rui Benfica,
Antony Chapoto, and Ballard Zulu (2003). “Smallholder income and land distribution in Africa: implications for poverty reduction strategies". Food policy 28.3, pp. 253-275.
Kaliba, Aloyce RM, Hugo Verkuijl, and Wilfred Mwangi (2000). “Factors affecting adoption of improved maize seeds and use of inorganic fertilizer for maize production in the intermediate and lowland zones of Tanzania". Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 32.1, pp. 35-47.
Nagayets, Oksana (2005). “Small farms: current status and key trends". The future of small farms, 2005 Jun 26:355.
Perez-Escamilla, Rafael, Michael Dessalines, Mousson Finnigan, Helena Pachon, Amber Hromi-Fiedler, and Nishang Gupta (2009). “Household food insecurity is associated with childhood malaria in rural Haiti". The Journal of nutrition 139.11, pp. 2132-2138.
Ray, Deepak K, Nathaniel D Mueller, Paul C West, and Jonathan A Foley (2013). “Yield trends are insufficient to double global crop production by 2050". PloS one 8.6, e66428.
Sample, Drew (2016). \GHI Haiti: In Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Haiti Facing “Alarming" Hunger Levels Higher Than Any Other Country in the Americas". url: https://www.ifpri.org/news-release/ghi-haiti-aftermath-hurricane-matthew-haiti-facing-%E2%80%9Calarming%E2%80%9D-hunger-levels-higher-any.
USAID (2017). “Haiti: Agriculture & Food Security Fact Sheet". url: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/_les/documents/1862/FINAL Food Security March 2017.pdf.

[1] See Jayne et al. (2003), Nagayets (2005), and Berdegue and Fuentealba (2011).
[2] Project for the Strengthening of Agricultural Public Services.

Zambia Project

 

Why They Can’t All Be Trade Surpluses

Read full article here.

Illinois Ag Perspectives on Trade Matters

Read full article here.

Dr. Kathy Baylis

Kathy is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. She works on international agriculture, forestry, trade and environment, with a particular interest in understanding policy impacts on food security and conservation. She joined the department after several years as an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and earning her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 2003. Kathy has worked in agricultural policy in both Canada and the United States. In 2001/02, she was the staff economist in charge of agriculture and forestry for the Council of Economic Advisors in the White House, and in the mid-1990s, she worked as Executive Secretary with the National Farmers Union in Canada. She has helped bring in over $28 million in grants and has successfully advised and graduated over 20 graduate students. She has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters on agriculture, forestry, trade and environmental policy. She has also coauthored a textbook on Canadian and U.S. agricultural policy.

Read more about her work here and here.

Hemant Kumar Pullabhotla

“I work in Development Economics with a focus on the microeconomics of rural agricultural markets, human capital impacts of public health policies, and food security and welfare impacts of market shocks. My current research looks at the effects of missing information and market power on farmer welfare using a field experiment in India. I am also working on analyzing the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition policies on child education outcomes. In addition, I am a part of a research project looking at demand and adoption of agricultural technology by farmers and its impact on food security.”

Read more about Hemant here.

Nicolas Gatti

“I am interested in climate change impacts on civil conflict and food insecurity. My current work focuses on studying the mechanisms through which weather shocks affect civil conflict in Indonesia and the Philippines. I am also part of a project looking at productive efficiency in agriculture production in Zambia.”

Read more about Nicolas here.

News

Why They Can’t All Be Trade Surpluses

Read full article here.

Illinois Ag Perspectives on Trade Matters

Read full article here.