The curious case of C-88: impacts of a potato variety on farmers in Yunnan, China

Background: Limited analysis has been conducted of the role of agricultural research in promoting Chinese agricultural growth in less-favored areas. This paper analyzes how a particular potato variety generates benefts to producers
and discusses how these benefts may have contributed to poverty reduction in Yunnan province. Cooperation 88
(C88) is a high-yielding, late blight-resistant variety that was developed through a partnership between the International Potato Center and Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, China.
Methods: Qualitative and quantitative methods are used to analyze determinants of adoption of C88, and to
estimate impacts of adoption on producer well-being. A unique farm-household database is used to document the
determinants of C88 adoption and disadoption. The quantitative assessment is supplemented with a qualitative
analysis of the potato value chain to understand how seed availability and concern for processing attributes contributed to and eventually constrained difusion. Market-level information was used in an economic surplus model to
quantify the substantial economic impact of C88 over 20 years since its release.
Results: C88 spread rapidly in Yunnan following its release and was widely adopted by commercially oriented
farmers. Disadoption began after 2010 with limited seed availability driving the shift toward newer varieties. Farmers,
however, appreciate the ease of marketing, the 15% higher yields, and late-blight resistance associated with C88 suggesting that seed constraints are countervailing the economic benefts of the variety. Total impact on Yunnan potato
farmers of the variety was estimated to be around $2.5 billion for the 1996–2015 period.
Conclusions: On per-person terms among C88 growing farm households, the economic advantage of the variety
is likely to have contributed to poverty reduction. The aggregate impact of C88 difusion occurred during a period
of rapid poverty reduction in Yunnan and yield and disease-resistance benefts of C88 likely contributed to this