Mechanizing Together: Leveraging Local Governments for Rice Mechanization

Last registered on September 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Mechanizing Together: Leveraging Local Governments for Rice Mechanization
Initial registration date
December 24, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 03, 2023, 4:19 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
September 04, 2023, 2:52 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

UC San Diego

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project tests whether local elected leaders can coordinate technology adoption making rental markets and farmer training programs more successful. The technology I am studying is direct seeding of paddy with a $65 USD manual drum seeder. While growing rice without transplantation requires new agronomic practices, it removes the need for labor intensive rice transplantation. Since one drum seeder can cover a hectare in a day the device is well suited for rental if adoption is high enough in a local area. Multiple small-holders can effectively share a drum seeder during one days rental. This pilot RCT will allow me to test whether rental markets alone or rental markets and extension delegated to local elected leaders can successfully disseminate drum seeders. If this study achieves substantial dissemination of drum seeders, I also hope to study the local labor market effects of this technology induced labor demand shock.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Brownstone, Steven. 2023. "Mechanizing Together: Leveraging Local Governments for Rice Mechanization." AEA RCT Registry. September 04.
Experimental Details


The study has two interventions. In both interventions farmers will be able to rent drum seeders on a daily basis. In one arm the rental will be managed by the village government with its elected leader responsible for managing the rentals. In the other arm, agricultural extensionists employed by the state government not accountable to the village elected government will manage the rentals. An additional individually randomized intervention will be an unconditional 250 INR payment to large farmers in a village with an additional 1000 INR/ acre of drum seeded rice to be paid once the planting is verified by enumerators.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The uptake primary outcome is whether a farmer used a drum seeder on any of their land. This is the overall primary outcome of the study for which I expect to be most powered to detect significant treatment effects.
The primary profit outcome is reduction in cultivation costs.
The primary extensionist effort outcome is whether the farmer ever reported receiving information from the extensionist on drum seeders.
The primary labor market outcome will be wages for workers on the gram panchayats NREGA rolls who worked as transplanters during either the past winter or summer seasons. The working data will be collected multiple times throughout the season and treatment and control gram panchayats will be matched based on nearest neighbor, based on smallest Kolmogorov distance of the distribution of planting dates. I plan on obtaining the full distribution of planting dates using remote sensing.
The primary political economy outcome will be the population level support for the sarpanch with the NREGA and farmer frames re-weighted using dual frame weights to reflect the overall population.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
To compare the sarpanch managed and extensionist managed rental arms the total amount of rental income which is a function of the days the drum seeders were rented serves as a secondary uptake outcome. Acreage under drum seeding and profitability are all farmer level secondary outcomes. We will also try to collect cultivation costs and profitability at a plot level. Another secondary outcome is the wages for male and female workers with active NREGA job cards who had not worked as transplanters. The industry of these NREGA workers is a further secondary outcome.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Village leaders, sarpanches, were asked to apply to be considered for the rental program. Among those that applied, one village was selected per cluster. These villages were randomized into control, a sarpanch rental arm, and an agricultural extensionist rental arm. There is also a second level of individual randomization.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done on a computer using Stata 17. The randomization was stratified by district, historical use of drum seeders, and wages for transplanting labor.

The individual randomization is stratified by any past direct seeding, extent of paddy cultivation, and gram panchayat. We will only randomize in GPs with more than 5 rentals in either the past winter or the current kharif season. Gram Panchayats with more than 20 rentals in either season will also be excluded. GPs whose reported nursery planting time was after the date of the initial randomization were also included.
Randomization Unit
The administrative name for the unit of randomization is confusingly "cluster." The agriculture department defines the group of 3-5 gram panchayats, village level administrative unit, in which agricultural extensionists work as a "cluster". One gram panchayat was selected from each cluster and then randomization was done at the cluster level to ensure each agricultural extensionist only handled one treatment gram panchayat of either type.

A second level of individual randomization will take place at the farmer level. This randomization will take place among farmers with more than 2 acres of historical paddy cultivation who picked up and fully listened to an IVRS call describing the benefits of drum seeding. This filter is necessary since only a subset of the phone numbers in the government crop booking database are valid. The individual randomization was clustered by village and experience using a drum seeder. Those that had used a drum seeder themselves or seen a drum seeded field in the village were treated as the "experienced" group all others were treated as "inexperienced" for the purpose of randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,888, 172 individually randomized
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 clusters sarpanch rents, 100 clusters AEO rents, and 161 clusters control. 86 treatment and 86 control individual farmers.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Between the two 100 cluster arms the MDE at 80% power is .18 SD assuming an ICC of .1 with observations per cluster of 8. Between the 200 cluster treatment arms and the 161 cluster control arm the MDE is .16 SD.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of California San Diego
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Institute for Financial Management and Research
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number