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Catherine Larochelle

Assistant Professor
Catherine Larochelle
250 Drillfield Dr.
315 Hutcheson Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061



Ph.D., Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 2011

Graduate Certificate, Future Professoriate, Virginia Tech, 2011

M.S., Resource Economics and Policy, University of Maine, 2005

B.S., Agricultural Economics, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, 2003

Program Focus

My main research program focuses on impact evaluation of agricultural research on poverty, food security and nutrition, factors driving and constraining technological adoption, agricultural productivity, and policies affecting economic development and poverty reduction in developing countries.  Recently I performed an ex-post impact evaluation of modern improved bean varieties among rural households in Rwanda and Uganda and assessed changes in poverty profiles in Zimbabwe.


Current Projects

Project title: Impact assessment of technological innovation and dissemination under the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) in Southeast Asia (w/ Alwang, Norton, and Mills).

Funding source: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Brief description:  Under this large effort to assess the impact of IFAD’s support to CURE programs, I contribute to the research program in Nepal that aims to: i) quantify the impact of drought tolerant-rice variety adoption on yield and household economic status and food security; and ii) examine the impact of rice seed producer groups on local communities’ wellbeing. 

Previous Projects

Project title: Assessing impacts of adoption of high iron bean varieties and their impact on iron intakes and other livelihood outcomes in Rwanda.

Funding source:  International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), HarvestPlus, and CGIAR’s SPIA

Brief description:  Research project in Rwanda examining the household- and market-level impacts of iron-fortified bean varieties released in the country by Harvest Plus. Project involves collecting and analyzing a large household dataset.  Econometric estimates of treatment effects from adoption of new technologies are combined with market-level models to account for impacts on farm operations, yields and farm income, and dietary diversity of poor producers.

Project title: Adoption and Diffusion of C88 Potato Variety in China: Spatial Variability of Productivity Gains and Cost Savings and Value Chain Development

Funding source: The International Potato Center (CIP) and CGIAR’s Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA)

Brief description: The purpose of this research project is to assess the adoption and impact of C88, a late-blight resistance potato variety released in China in 1996.  C88 was adopted quickly because of its late-blight resistance property, which provides a yield advantage over other varieties, and demand in the growing potato industry. Impacts will be assessed at the farm and market level.

Project title: Estimating household demand for millet and sorghum in Niger and Nigeria using an Almost Ideal Demand System

Funding source: USAID in partnership with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Brief description: While millet and sorghum are key to household diets in Niger and Nigeria, factors such as population growth, urbanization, and income increase are expected to shift consumer preferences, by for example moving consumption patterns away from starchy-based diets. In addition, preferences for cereals might shift away from millet and sorghum, towards rice and wheat.  Therefore, there is a need to assess the importance of sorghum and millet relative to other cereals and food groups, e.g. meat, diary, and fruits and vegetables, in this changing environment.  Therefore, the objectives of this study are to gain an understanding of the demand drivers for sorghum and millet and how these two crops respond to changes in food prices and income level.

Project title: Disaggregated analysis of bean consumption demand and contribution to household food security in Uganda and Tanzania

Funding source: CIAT

Brief description: The purpose of this research activity is to assess current and future bean consumption demand in Uganda and Tanzania. More precisely this study aims at establishing the role beans play in the dietary patterns of the poor, estimating the effect of increasing bean trade and production shocks on current and future bean consumption, and evaluating whether a decline in bean consumption presents a nutrition and food security risk to the poor.

Current Course Taught

AAEC 3204-International Agricultural Development and Trade

AAEC 3004- Agricultural Production and Consumption Economics

Former Course Taught

AAEC 4344-Sustainable Development Economics  


  • Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, Dec. 2015 - Present
  • Research Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, Dec. 2013 - Nov. 2015
  • Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, August 2011 - Dec. 2013

Selected Awards

Outstanding Dissertation Award. Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities Category, Virginia Tech, 2012.  


Selected Publications

Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., Travis, E., Barrera, V.H., & Dominguez, J.M. (2019). Did you really get the message? Using text reminders to stimulate adoption of agricultural technologies. The Journal of Development Studies, 55(4), 548-564. 

Katungi, E., Larochelle, C., Mugabo, J., & Buruchara, R. (2018). Climbing bean as a solution to increase productivity in land-constrained environments: Evidence from RwandaOutlook on Agriculture.

Vaiknoras, K., Larochelle, C., Birol, E., Asare-Marfo, D., & Herrington, C. (2018). Promoting rapid and sustained adoption of biofortified crops: What we learned from iron-biofortified bean delivery approaches in RwandaFood Policy.

Katungi, E., Larochelle, C., Mugabo, J., & Buruchara, R. (2018). The effect of climbing bean adoption on the welfare of smallholder common bean growers in Rwanda. Food Security, 10(1), 61-79. 

Farris, J., Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., Norton, G.W., & King, C. (2017). Poverty Analysis Using Small Area Estimation: An Application to Conservation Agriculture in Uganda. Agricultural Economics, 48(6), 671-681. 

Alwang, J., Larochelle, C., & Barrera, V. (2017). Farm Decision Making and Gender: Results from a Randomized Experiment in EcuadorWorld Development92, 117-129.

Larochelle, C., Asare-Marfo, D., Birol, E. & Alwang, J. (2016). Assessing the Adoption of Improved Bean Varieties in Rwanda and the Role of Varietal Attributes in Adoption Decisions. HarvestPlus Working Paper No. 25. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Larochelle, C., J. Alwang & N. Taruvinga (2016). Schooling Achievement among Rural Zimbabwean Children during a Period of Economic TurmoilComparative Education Review, 60(2), 311-338. DOI: 10.1086/685582

Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., Norton, G.W., Katungi, E. & Labarta, R.A. (2015). Impacts of Improved Bean Varieties on Poverty and Food Security in Uganda and Rwanda. Chapter 16 in Thomas S. Walker and Jeffrey Alwang (eds.), Crop Improvement, Adoption and Impact of Improved Varieties in Food crops in Sub-Saharan Africa. CABI Publishing.

Larochelle, C. & Alwang, J. (2015). Explaining Marketing Strategies among Bolivian Potato Farmers . Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, 54(3), 285-308.

Larochelle, C., Alwang, J., & Taruvinga, N. (2014). Inter-temporal Changes in Well-being During Conditions of Hyperinflation: Evidence from ZimbabweJournal of African Economies, 23(2), 225-256.  doi:10.1093/jae/ejt028

Larochelle, C. & Alwang, J. (2013). The Role of Risk Mitigation in Production Efficiency: A Case Study of Potato Cultivation in the Bolivian AndesJournal of Agricultural Economics, 64, 363-381.  doi: 10.1111/j.1477-9552.2012.00367.x