Local Systems Research for Agricultural Innovation in Bihar, India (Remote)

UROP Title: Agricultural Innovation in Smallholder Farming Systems in India

Term UROP is offered: Spring 2021

Compensation: Paid ($13.50/hr) or credit

Location: Fully remote

Contact: Megha Hegde  Supervisor: Elizabeth Hoffecker

 Project Description

As disruptions to global food production systems increase due to challenges from climate change, pandemics, political instability and other factors, the capacity for agricultural systems to adapt, innovate, and transform themselves becomes paramount. All agricultural innovation processes take place within a complex local system context, which influences the trajectory and outcomes of those innovation efforts. This project involves conducting secondary research, and potentially systems analysis, to support an evaluation of a complex agricultural transformation initiative in Bihar, India, that is being implemented through a partnership between the State of Bihar, the World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Activities: This project is structured as a team UROP project and we are recruiting 2-3 additional students to join the team that is currently conducting this research. Specific projects for the Spring semester are likely to focus on one or more of the following areas: 1) background research on the use of digital tools and digital innovations within agricultural and livestock value chains in Bihar and neighboring states; 2) background research on the policy context for agricultural market innovation in Bihar; 3) research on the effects of major current events, such as Covid-19 and recent farm bills, on smallholder farming systems in Bihar; and 4) the application of tools from systems dynamics and complex systems analysis to assess and potentially map various sub-systems of interest, such as livestock production systems.


Familiarity with and/or interest in northeastern India. We are particularly interested in students with background knowledge and/or an interest in agricultural practices in the Indian context and/or experience assessing or mapping complex socio-technical systems, such as agricultural production systems and local market systems. Prior experience conducting secondary research preferred.

Compensation and Eligibility

MIT undergraduate students who have not fulfilled their ELO guarantee over Fall 2020 or IAP 2021 are eligible for compensation under this project. Students who have already fulfilled their ELO guarantee can either apply for UROP direct funding or apply for credit.
Compensation rate for this project is at $13.50/hour with an expectation that the student will spend between 80-140 hours on the project over the course of the semester.

Apply (ideally by February 26, 2021)

Interested applicants should email Megha Hegde, MIT D-Lab Research Associate and cc: Elizabeth Hoffecker, MIT D-Lab Research Scientist with a brief explanation of interest, a description of relevant prior experience, and any questions about the opportunity.

Opportunity on the MIT UROP site