PhD thesis defense: José Alberto Díaz Montenegro

October 8, 2019

On the 8th of October, 2019, José Díaz Montenegro, PhD student under the supervision of Chema Gil and Elsa Varela, defended his thesis, “Livelihood strategies and risk behavior of cacao producers in Ecuador. Effects of national policies to support cacao farmers and specialty cacao landraces.”

For his thesis, José elaborated three case studies related to the value chain of cacao in Ecuador and participation and role of small producers.

1) The first case study reveals tremendous asymmetries characterizing cacao value chains worldwide, where a handful of actors involved in marketing and industrialization capture more than 90% of the value added. Further, high tensions in the production of cacao in Ecuador are evidenced in the difficult decision between planting fine, high-quality cacao or a hybrid variety that is much more productive and profitable.

2) The second case study identifies subsistence strategies of small cacao producers in an important coastal zone of Ecuador, using a methodology which relates livelihood strategies, capital, and income, via a detailed survey of 188 producer households. Four profiles of livelihood strategies were identified, and by relating these to capital assets and income variables, José was able to verify that there is no clear gap between the cultivation of the 2 varietals, with 60% of the households cultivating both varietals simultaneously.

3) In the third case study, by applying a model of structural equations, he related risk behaviour, perception of risk, and risk management strategies of the producers in multidimensional constructs.

His results demonstrated greater sensitivity toward losses than toward earnings, and the important, direct mediating role that perceptions of the impacts of adverse events play in risk management, especially in aspects of prices and commercialization.

The Doctoral Studies Committee counted the votes and in accordance with Article 14.7 of Royal Decree 99/2011 of 28 January, awarded a mark of Excellent Cum Laude to his work.

Congratulations José!

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