Achieving development impact with complementary stress-resistant seed & financial technologies (Mozambique)

Last registered on February 27, 2018


Trial Information

General Information

Achieving development impact with complementary stress-resistant seed & financial technologies (Mozambique)
Initial registration date
February 26, 2018

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
February 27, 2018, 11:22 AM EST

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


Primary Investigator

University of Maine

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California, Davis
PI Affiliation
University of California, Davis

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Seasonal weather fluctuations directly and dramatically shape rural household welfare in developing countries. With climate projections of more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, this vulnerability will likely remain central to global poverty concerns and policy debates for the coming decades. In many contexts, drought presents a major weather risk, and drought tolerant crop varieties have thus attracted widespread attention. Index insurance has garnered similar enthusiasm as an instrument for reducing producers’ vulnerability to weather. In many rainfed agricultural settings, neither technological innovation in drought tolerance nor financial innovation in index insurance is sufficient in isolation – and that the true potential of either to reduce household vulnerability might only be tapped when bundled with the other. In isolation, drought tolerant crops may protect against moderate drought but leave farmers’ exposure to extreme drought risk virtually unchanged. While drought index insurance may provide more complete protection against drought, rural households may be unwilling to pay actuarially fair prices to access this insurance. Proper bundling of the two may help resolve this conundrum by leveraging complementarities between the two types of innovation.

To evaluate the returns to this bundle of technologies, we conduct a randomized control trial with maize farmers in Mozambique beginning in 2015 and lasting three maize cropping seasons, through 2018. The intervention facilitates access to drought-tolerant maize seed, as a standalone product and bundled with satellite-based index insurance. Working in cooperation with local seed and insurance companies, these technologies were marketed in a randomly selected set of communities in Mozambique. The goal of the intervention is to evaluate the impact of access to the standalone and bundled technologies on household welfare and agricultural outcomes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Boucher, Stephen, Michael Carter and Jonathan Malacarne. 2018. "Achieving development impact with complementary stress-resistant seed & financial technologies (Mozambique)." AEA RCT Registry. February 27.
Former Citation
Boucher, Stephen, Michael Carter and Jonathan Malacarne. 2018. "Achieving development impact with complementary stress-resistant seed & financial technologies (Mozambique)." AEA RCT Registry. February 27.
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Experimental Details


Working in cooperation with local seed and insurance companies, drought-tolerant maize and satellite-based index insurance were marketed in a randomly selected set of communities in Mozambique. In one set of communities, drought-tolerant maize seed was marketed as a standalone product. In an additional set of communities, drought-tolerant maize seed was bundled with a satellite-based index insurance product. The remaining communities received no marketing of either technology.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Agricultural Investment; Household Welfare
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will use the following primary measures of agricultural investment: Agricultural expenditure (money spent on maize seed and chemical fertilizer) and acreage planted in maize.

We will use the following primary measures of household welfare:

1) Consumption - Household consumption levels constructed from 30 day and 12 Month household non-food expenditure, 7 day food consumption recall modules matched with community-level and district-level prices.

(2) Food security - Frequency of experiencing food insecure events

(3) Dietary Diversity - Constructed according to guidelines set forth by "Guidelines for measuring household and individual dietary diversity", FAO (2010).

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We take as secondary outcomes other measures and behaviors that help show how the intervention influences primary measures. For example, agricultural practices (crop portfolio decisions, intercropping, planting practices, fertilizer use), food/non-food measures which combine to form our primary measure of household consumption.

Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Study Area

Central Mozambique is a diverse region when it comes to the production of maize. The drought risk faced by households varies significantly over relatively small regions and is influenced by altitude, soil differences, and proximity to rivers. At the same time, access to roads and distance from urban centers affects the availability of inputs and the development of markets for agricultural products, further complicating the production and marketing decisions of farm households. To be suitable for the questions considered in the study, potential sites thus needed be maize producing regions susceptible to drought and have minimal penetration by improved maize varieties.

Three districts which exemplified the above characteristics were chosen for the study: Machaze district in Manica province, Tambara districtd in Manica province; and Morrumbala district in Zambezia province. Working with department of agriculture extension agents and local partners, we then identified a set of feasible communities. For the purpose of this study feasible meant that a community was located in a maize growing area of the district, the community was accessible (though perhaps with difficulty) even during the rainy season, and the community was as insulated as possible from other study communities in the district.

Sample Selection and Randomization

In total a set of 72 communities were chosen (24 in each districts). All communities are in maize growing regions. The feasible set of communities was chosen to maximize the distance between each potential candidates subject to locating the required number of communities in the district. This selection ensures coverage over the various maize growing zones within each district and greatly reduces the chance of spillovers.

During the collection of baseline data, the political and security situation in the northern two districts (Tambara and Morrumbala) deteriorated and these sites became infeasible for research. This resulted in the loss of 48 study communities. A replacement district (Nhamatanda district in Sofala province) was chosen and baseline data collection resumed. Thirty-nine replacement communities were identified in Nhamatanda district, resulting in a total of sixty-three communities in the sample.

The study involves two treatment arms and a control group. In the first treatment arm, the research team and seed company partners undertook community-level marketing efforts for drought-tolerant maize (DTM) seed. The second treatment arm proceeded similarly, though in this set of communities the drought-tolerant seed was bundled with a satellite-based index insurance product. The bundle was available to all community members at a market rate. Control communities received no marketing intervention, only a yearly survey. Drought-tolerant maize seed is available commercially, though without insurance, and control community members could purchase it if they wanted to. Due to the isolated nature of study communities and extremely thin input supply markets, very few households outside of the treatment communities are expected to do so.

Given spatial variation in soils, weather, and access to inputs, our design is stratified geographically. Triads of proximate communities were constructed from the full set of feasible study villages. Randomization of treatments then took place within each triad—with one community being randomly assigned to control, one community to the DTM-only treatment and one being assigned to the DTM and Index-insurance treatment. Treatment was clustered, so all households in a community received the same treatment.

At the individual level, the research team worked with extension agents from the department of agriculture and local community leaders to obtain rosters of maize growing households in each study community. After household rosters were collected and verified for each community, households were assigned a number from a random draw and ordered accordingly. Twenty-one households in each community were then invited to take part in the study. These households would participate in a yearly survey and receive personal invitations to the community meetings (described below) at which the technologies being studied were introduced and promoted.

Description of Intervention

The intervention is best described as a community-level marketing intervention. Study participants, however, also received additional incentives to induce their attendance and participation in marketing activities and encourage experimentation with drought tolerant seed. Both community level activities and individual encouragements are detailed below.

In 2015 the research team and partner seed companies facilitated educational meetings in each treatment community. At these meetings, the characteristics and benefits of drought-tolerant maize seed were presented, as well as best practices and recommended levels of chemical fertilizer. Local extension agents from the department of agriculture were also present and answered questions about fertilizer use and other maize-related issues.

In the first year (2015), educational activities were uniform across both treatment arms. Communities received information on drought-tolerant seed only (without insurance). Study participants received personal invitations to these meetings, though all community members were informed about the meeting and invited to attend. Study participants also received 50 gram test packets of the seed varieties being promoted and a 1 kg test pack of one variety (which was chosen by lottery). All additional participants received only a 50 gram test packs. To put these quantities in perspective, the recommended seed use rate for maize is 25 kilograms per hectare. Additional kilogram-sized packs were available for sale to community members not participating in the study or study participants who wished to test the variety they did not receive through the lottery.

The two treatment arms diverged in 2016, which was the first year in which insured drought-tolerant maize seed was made available for purchase. As in the previous year, community meetings were organized through the department of agriculture and local leaders. At these meetings, two drought-tolerant maize seed varieties were presented, after which they were made available for purchase. All community members had been made aware, in advance, of the date and time of the meeting and were encouraged to attend. Households participating in the study also received personal invitations and were told that they would have the opportunity to participate in a lottery for discounts on the price of drought-tolerant seed purchased after the community meeting. Those communities in the bundled DTM satellite-based index insurance treatment arm also received educational sessions on the insurance product and the nature of index insurance. The seed purchased in these communities came bundled with the insurance product, which is described briefly below.

In 2017, the research team and seed company partners once again ran educational meetings and community seed sales. Households participating in the survey received personal invitations and random discounts as in the previous year.

Insurance Details

In one-third of communities, DTM was sold bundled with a satellite-based index insurance product. These technologies were not sold separately, though DTM seed does exist as a stand-alone product in the market. The inclusion of insurance raised the cost of the seed by about 20% and covered the replacement of the seed itself should one of the indices on which the contract was based be triggered. Two indices underlaid the insurance product. The first index is rainfall in the forty days following planting. If rainfall levels fall below a designated threshold over the first forty days after planting began in the community, the insurance will replace the insured seed the following year. The second index was a full-season prediction of maize yields, calibrated to historic production levels within the community. If full season yields were estimated to fall below a designated threshold, the insurance would replace the insured seed the following year.
The insurance was offered by Hollard Insurance, located in Maputo, Mozambique. Partner seed companies collected lists of farmers purchasing insured seed and provided these farmers with vouchers indicating their use of insured seed. The partner seed companies then remitted the insurance premiums to Hollard Insurance. In the event of an insurance payment, the seed company would replace farmers’ seed and collect the vouchers, which they would submit to Hollard Insurance to receive payment for the replaced seed.

Due to the index insurance design of the product. It was not necessary for farmers to report drought losses nor for the insurance company to send a claims adjuster to verify losses. The indices were monitored by the research team, which provided them to the insurance company. Results of the indices were communicated to farmers via SMS messages, both directly and through community leaders.

Complier definition

The marketing intervention described above took place at the community level. Its random assignment will allow us to make statements about the impacts of the availability of the technologies in question on various agricultural behaviors and household welfare measures. We will also be interested in the impact of these technologies on those households which choose to adopt them. We will refer to study households that adopt the technology promoted in their treatment arm when it is made available as compliers.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Communities were randomized across treatment arms using Stata. Groups of three proximate communities were identified and grouped into geographical strata in order to ensure comparability in agroecological and climate characteristics. Treatment was then randomly assigned across communities within a triad. All households within a community were subject to the same treatment.

Additionally, households were randomly chosen for participation in the study from rosters of maize growing households in each community. This was also done using stata. Each household was assigned a random number. The list was then sorted according to the random number and the lowest 21 households were chosen for participation.

Finally, participating households in treatment communities chose random discounts on the price of DTM seed. At community marketing meetings, households publicly chose a colored ball out of a bag. The color of the ball corresponded to a certain discount. The ball was then replaced in the bag and the next community member chose his/her discount.
Randomization Unit
Randomization of treatment occurred at the community level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Seventy-two communities (grouped into 24 strata each containing 3 communities) were initially selected. The violence in part of the planned study zone and reallocation described earlier resulted in a final set of 63 communities (21 strata).
Sample size: planned number of observations
The study had a goal of 21 households per community. This would result in a total of 1,323 households.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Recall that there are three treatment assignments: control, DTM only (treatment 1), Bundled DTM and Satellite-based Index Insurance (treatment 2).

There are 21 geographical strata, each containing a community assigned to each of three treatments. Efforts were made to include 21 households per community, resulting in 441 households per treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of California, Davis Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials