Identifying cost-effective means to improve coffee quality and quantity sold by smallholder coffee farmers in Eastern Uganda
Last registered on May 07, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Identifying cost-effective means to improve coffee quality and quantity sold by smallholder coffee farmers in Eastern Uganda
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004175
Initial registration date
May 05, 2019
Last updated
May 07, 2019 10:23 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Goettingen
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
PI Affiliation
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
PI Affiliation
University of Goettingen
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-03-15
End date
2020-12-20
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Coffee is a major cash crop and source of income for thousands of smallholder farmers in Uganda. High quality Arabica coffee is highly demanded in the international market and, thus, has high income generation potential across the value chain including for primary producers. However, the quality of Arabica coffee grown in Uganda is persistently low. A key cause identified is sub-optimal harvesting techniques among smallholder coffee producers. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) implements a training program in collaboration with the largest coffee exporter in the area to encourage adoption of optimal harvesting. A module which focuses on selective and frequent picking and is developed by coffee experts and researchers is incorporated into ongoing extension services in the area. This project analyzes the role of information dissemination and estimates the impact of the training program in encouraging optimal harvesting of coffee to improve coffee quality, quantity sold, and revenues for smallholder farmers. There are 3 treatment variations. This study aims to identify which strategy is most effective to encourage selective harvesting of coffee. First treatment variation is provision of standard training on coffee quality and harvest. The second experimental variation focuses on peer social learning. In addition to the standard harvest-related module, a peer farmer who selectively and frequently picks coffee is invited to training session to share his/her positive experience about the practice, answer questions, and encourage others for adoption. Lastly, in the third variation the project manager of the largest coffee exporter in the region attends standard training sessions and talks about the importance of coffee quality in accessing high-value coffee markets. This variation aims at improving the credibility of information provided during the training and restoring the producers’ confidence in the exporter. It is also expected to create loyalty to the company thereby making farmers more motivated to meet buyer’s expectations to produce high quality coffee.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Arslan, Cansın et al. 2019. "Identifying cost-effective means to improve coffee quality and quantity sold by smallholder coffee farmers in Eastern Uganda ." AEA RCT Registry. May 07. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4175/history/46113
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Coffee is a major cash crop and source of income for thousands of smallholder farmers in Uganda. High quality Arabica coffee is highly demanded in the international market and, thus, has high income generation potential across the value chain including for primary producers. However, the quality of Arabica coffee grown in Uganda is persistently low. A key cause identified is sub-optimal harvesting techniques among smallholder coffee producers. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) implements a training program in collaboration with the largest coffee exporter in the area to encourage adoption of optimal harvesting. A module which focuses on selective and frequent picking and is developed by coffee experts and researchers is incorporated into ongoing extension services in the area. This project analyzes the role of information dissemination and estimates the impact of the training program in encouraging optimal harvesting of coffee to improve coffee quality, quantity sold, and revenues for smallholder farmers. There are 3 treatment variations. This study aims to identify which strategy is most effective to encourage selective harvesting of coffee.

1.Information treatment. In this set of farmer groups, a training module is given using the standard extension approach. Extension workers are trained by and with the materials prepared by coffee experts and researchers. Topics to be covered include: what is coffee quality and how to achieve ideal quality; what is selective harvesting; cost and benefits of selective picking; how to pick more effectively. Pictures of coffee cherries picked at different stages are included in the training programme to show how ideally picked cherries (and others) should look like. Cost-benefit calculations are provided to help farmers make informed decisions.
A picking demonstration is held to show how to effectively pick cherries.

2.Information treatment + peer farmer meetings. In this set of randomly selected groups, coffee farmers are exposed to the same information treatment as above. In addition, a peer farmer who selectively picks and sells coffee without sorting talks about their experience during the meeting. Farmers’ questions are answered by the peer farmer during the meeting. Hearing the positive experience of peer farmers about selective harvesting is expected to encourage selective picking among farmers (through peer-to-peer social learning).

3.Information treatment + buyer visits and calls. In this set of randomly selected groups, farmers are exposed to the information treatment and, additionally, a senior staff (e.g. project manager) from the buyer attends the meetings. This variation aims at improving the credibility of information provided during the training and restoring the producers’ confidence in the exporter. In addition, an automatic voice message (phone call) from the buyer is sent to farmers during the harvest season starts that the exporter hopes to receive hand-picked high-quality cherries from them. The goal is to make each individual farmer feel that his/her behaviour matters to the buyer and create loyalty thereby making farmers more motivated to meet buyer’s expectations to produce high quality coffee.
Intervention Start Date
2018-07-30
Intervention End Date
2018-08-18
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
adoption of selective picking, coffee quality (subjective), quantity of coffee harvested and sold, coffee revenues
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
trust in and loyalty to buyer, agriculture network density
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study takes advantage of a World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) program implemented in collaboration with the largest coffee exporter in Eastern Uganda. The program aims to train about 4000 coffee farmers on an optimal harvesting method to increase coffee quality and quantity harvested. Our sample consists of 88 farmer groups and 1600 coffee farming households which are randomly selected. These 1600 farmers are randomly assigned to the three treatment variations and the control group (see abstract). The study uses an encouragement design.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Strafied randomization (on region, coffee harvest level, education of the household head) at the cluster level was done using statistical software Stata in office. We used the command randtreat which deals with misfits.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was done at the farmer group level
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
88 farmer groups in total
Sample size: planned number of observations
1600 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
20, 19, and 19 farmer groups in treatment variation 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and 30 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Makerere University School of Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2018-03-22
IRB Approval Number
MAKSS REC 03.18.138