Small N exploratory case study


The small N exploratory case study collects data to focus on several topics, such as getting a first understanding of how farmers use and handle their seed. A small N-survey is exploratory and uses qualitative and quantitative data. It does not claim to be representative; it is more oriented towards a broad description than towards statistically significant differences and correlations. Data are usually collected with a survey form with a modest number of open-ended and closed questions; it takes about an hour or 90 minutes to complete with each farmer.

There is also space to include other information volunteered by the interviewees. To identify patterns of seed use during a first reconnaissance, it is important to strategically sample different groups, such as farmers vs traders, smallholders vs large farmers, male vs female farmers. A study may require 12 to 15 surveys per type of farmer and 35 to 50 farmers per community. There is additional insight when comparing case studies, for example comparing different communities.

Examples of questions that the tool can address
  • Which farmers save their own seed and which ones obtain it off-farm?
  • Where do farmers get seed when they do not use their own?
  • What seed and varieties do large vs smallholders use?
  • What payments and exchanges do male farmers vs female farmers use?
  • How does seed use of older farmers differ from that of youth?
For more information on the tool

Contact Conny Almekinders (Wageningen University & Research):

A researcher asks a farmer about her potato seed and varieties for a short exploratory survey in Peru. (Photo: C. Urrea/WUR)