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Fields Changed

Field Before After
Status In Development Completed
Trial End Date March 01, 2018 January 01, 2020
Last Published July 25, 2017 08:02 AM May 19, 2020 02:30 PM
Data Collection Complete Yes
Public Data URL
Program Files Yes
Program Files URL
Is data available for public use? Yes
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Field Before After

Paper Abstract

Agricultural advisory services generally rely on interpersonal knowledge transfers by agricultural extension agents who visit farmers to provide information. This approach is not always effective and has proved hard to scale sustainably, particularly in highly dispersed smallholder farming systems. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been advanced as a promising way to overcome many of the problems associated with conventional agricultural extension. We evaluate the effectiveness of an ICT‐mediated approach to deliver agricultural information in a field experiment conducted among small‐scale maize farmers in eastern Uganda. Three complementary technologies designed to address both informational and behavioral constraints to technical change are considered. First, we investigate the effectiveness of audiovisual messages (video) as a means of delivering information on input use and improved maize management practices to farmers. Second, we quantify the additional impact of complementing video with an interactive voice response (IVR) service. Third, we estimate the incremental effect of time‐sensitive short message services (SMS) messages designed to remind farmers about applying key practices at specific points during the season. We find that households that were shown a short video on how to become better maize farmers were performing significantly better on a knowledge test, more likely to apply recommended practices, and more likely to use fertilizer than households that did not view the video. These same households also reported maize yields about 10.5% higher than those that did not view the video. We find little evidence of an incremental effect of the IVR service or SMS reminders.

Paper Citation

Van Campenhout, B., Spielman, D.J. and Lecoutere, E. (2020), Information and Communication Technologies to Provide Agricultural Advice to Smallholder Farmers: Experimental Evidence from Uganda. Amer. J. Agr. Econ.. doi:10.1002/ajae.12089

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Preliminary Reports
Field Before After

Preliminary Report Completion Date

November 30, 2017

Preliminary Report Abstract

In many developing countries, agricultural extension services are generally biased towards men, with information targeted mainly to male members of a farming household and in formats that are rarely tailored to female members. Nevertheless, female farmers may also benefit from such services as this may affect their ability to make informed decisions, resulting in increased farm productivity, household income, and welfare. We conduct a gendered field experiment among maize-farming households in eastern Uganda to test whether video-enabled extension messaging affects outcomes related to maize cultivation. In this experiment, men, women, and couples are shown randomly assigned videos about improved maize management practices in which male, female, or both male and female actors are featured. We first vary exposure to the videos by gender to test the effects of changes in intra-household information asymmetries, investigating whether involving women as recipients of information increases their ability to participate in household decision-making, and thus their involvement in household production choices. We then vary exposure to the gender of the actors in the videos to test for role-model effects, exploring whether involving women as information messengers challenges the idea that decision-making is a predominantly male domain, in turn affecting women’s outcomes. Results show that targeting women with information increases their knowledge about improved maize management practices, their role in agricultural decision-making, the adoption of recommended practices and inputs, production-related outcomes, and the quantity of maize women sell to the market. Results for the role-model effects are mixed, and are evident more in joint household outcomes than individual women’s outcomes. Overall, our findings suggest that in the context of our study, extension efforts aimed at directly addressing intra-household information asymmetries may be a first-best means of empowering women in agriculture. Other, more subtle means that seek to influence perceptions and norms about gendered roles in the household may not generate expected effects or work via expected impact pathways, though they remain worth further exploration.

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