La Monarca Vol 4 FINAL - Page 18

A l e j a n d ro L ó p e z F e l d m a n
Collecting this kind of household
data is painstaking, acquired by
knocking door-to-door and traveling
to places far from the paved roads
and ivory towers of academia. Yet,
according to Alejandro, this data
is critical, and home visits are the
only way to obtain it. Many of the
farmers he interviews lack highspeed internet access and would
otherwise be missed by phone or mail
surveys. Even when data is available,
their experiences are frequently
lost in the statistical averages of the
government’s large demographic data
sets. “Most researchers use secondary
[government] data, which is easier
and cheaper to gain access to,” he
explains, “but for micro-scale and
rural studies, there’s no alternative to
By speaking directly with farmers,
he has been able to contribute key
insights regarding rural livelihoods
and globalization. For example, in
several recent publications he and his
colleagues noted that rural farmers
are planting fewer and fewer varieties
Photo courtesy of Alejandro Lopez Feldman
or economist Alejandro López
Feldman, house calls are the
norm. While it might seem strange
that the Chair of the prestigious
Centro de Estudios y Docencia
Económicas in Mexico would spend
so much time in the homes and
fields of rural farmers, Alejandro
feels this is the only way to gain a
clear picture of how small farmers in
Mexico are faring and to link their
experiences to global phenomena
such as immigration, food security
and climate change.
UC Davis Alumnus
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
Advisors: J. Edward Taylor & James Wilen
Current position: Professor & Chair
División de Economía, Centro de Investigación y Docencia
Económicas (CIDE)
of maize. Historically, planting
diverse crops provided farmers with
a form of insurance against events
such as unpredictable weather
conditions and pest outbreaks. If
conditions were unfavorable for one
variety in one year, the farmers had
other varieties that might still grow
findings suggest that remittances are
increasingly replacing older forms of
crop-based insurance.
The practical implications of
his findings are potentially quite
serious. While remittances provide
a supplemental form of insurance,
they aren’t necessarily stable. They
depend on economic conditions and
immigration policies in the US and
may not provide long-term financial
security. A reliance on remittances
places those farmers with low levels
of genetic diversity in their fields at
risk of losing entire crops.
However, Alejandro and his
colleagues discovered that farmers
had decreased their planting of
diverse varieties of corn at the same
time as cash remittances from family
members in the US were increasing.
represented additional safeguards
While Alejandro doesn’t pretend to
against bad crop years, Alejandro’s have the answers to these complex

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