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Knowledge Heterogeneity: Experimental Evidence on Information Barriers to Oil Seed Adoption in Uganda
Last registered on December 09, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Knowledge Heterogeneity: Experimental Evidence on Information Barriers to Oil Seed Adoption in Uganda
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005150
Initial registration date
December 08, 2019
Last updated
December 09, 2019 2:17 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
OSU
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Politecnico di Milano, RFF‐CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment
PI Affiliation
Universita di Milano--Bicocca
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2016-06-01
End date
2018-10-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Barriers to commercial farming are probably the most significant frictions to agricultural development in Africa. Moreover, improving agricultural productivity is the most effective way to improving living standards of the poor given their significant dependence on (subsistence) agriculture and the larger productivity gaps between agriculture and other sectors.

The Government of Uganda is committed to vegetable oil development in order to promote a competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector as the basis for job creation, export development and provision of improved livelihoods for the rural population. For this purpose, IFAD supported two phases of the Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP), joint with local public-private partnership. The first round of Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP1) was conceived in the mid-1990s and was approved in April 1997 with the aim to reduce Uganda’s heavy reliance on imports of vegetable oil, despite good potential for domestic production, and to address the low intake of vegetable oils by the population. VODP1 supports vegetable oil production as well as agro-processing and marketing and is an important thrust in Government’s efforts to modernize and commercialize agriculture. The project is highly innovative inasmuch as it introduced a new crop (oil palm) to Uganda and a new form of public-private partnership (PPP). VODP1 has addressed rural poverty by involving smallholder farmers in crop production and small-scale processing, in improving the nutrition of the population through increased consumption of vegetable oil, and improving food security through the growing of alternative cash crops for income generation. Several lessons have been learned from phase 1 and have guided the design of phase 2. Among several factors, it is worth mentioning the important benefits from private-public partnerships (PPP), the crucial role of gradual, bottom-up and flexible capacity-building process in order to affect small-farmers behaviour and actions. The second phase of VODP (VODP2) builds on VODP1 and maintain the two components related to oilseeds and oil palm. The current report focuses only of the former. The oilseeds component of VODP2 has been targeted to reach 136,000 smallholder households in four Uganda macro-regions or agro-industrial hubs, namely West Nile Hub, Gulu Hub, Lira Hub, Eastern Uganda Hub . The project is supplied by private providers in different areas and includes both technical services for increased oilseed production and market information (i.e. training about farming as a business, business-oriented group development, marketing). The ultimate goal of the intervention was to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction in rural Uganda regions. The project is innovative inasmuch as it introduced a new form of value-chain approach and boosted the transformation of substance farming to commercial agricultural within a competitive market.

In our research study we carry out an impact assessment of the VODP2 extension model on oilseed adoption, farm output, productivity and well-being. We do so by designing a randomized control trail and exploiting the phase-in slant of VODP2 and roll-out over time of activities in different areas. By using a random assignment estimation strategy (intention to treatment effect) we find that VODP2 has a positive and significant effects on immediate outcomes, such as farmers’ price and yield expectations, vegetable oil seeds adoption and input use. We find more mixed results on intermediate outcomes in terms of productivity and revenue. We do find, though, positive effects on market access (group sale) and value-chain involvement. We find very little effect on final wellbeing outcomes. These effects are consistent in delivering a clean picture of VODP2 effectiveness in fostering commercial farming, productivity and market engagement. The lesson learned is not distrustful, but it provides a sound basis for further need of medium-term efforts in order to develop a sustainable and profitable vegetable oil subsector, which is able to eventually increase household income and well-being.

External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Bonan, Jacopo, HAROUNAN KAZIANGA and Mariapia Mendola. 2019. "Knowledge Heterogeneity: Experimental Evidence on Information Barriers to Oil Seed Adoption in Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. December 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5150-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The Vegetable Oil Development Project-Phase 2 (VODP2), cofounded by IFAD, aims at promoting and consolidating oil seeds value chains in Eastern and Northern Uganda. Our proposed study aims at providing a rigorous impact evaluation of the VODP2 extension service intervention, which is supplied by pay-for-service providers and includes both technical services for increased oilseed production/productivity and market information (i.e. training about farming as a business, business oriented group development, marketing).

According to the VODP2 outline, the project activities are expected to be carried out in four hubs of Lira, Eastern Uganda, Gulu and West Nile covering 51 districts and targeting 140,000 households. A hub comprises a number of districts (between five and nineteen) which are further divided into sub-counties (from 6 to 15 per district). The project operates in those regions through private service providers in charge of delivering an homogeneous set of project activities detailed below. Project interventions are targeted to farmer groups. Farmer groups may be already existing and active or they may have been created for the purpose of the project. In the latter case, service providers are in charge of supporting group formation, mobilization and sensitization for oilseed production, through capacity building activities. On average groups are composed by 15-20 members, have a leader and are composed by both men and women. Eligibility criteria for participating in VODP2 are the willingness of the group, the common interest in farming oilseeds, possibly due to some experience in growing oilseeds. A list of groups eligible to receive the project intervention is then compiled by the service providers. The project intervention is designed to address farmers’ difficulties in accessing information about improved production techniques including information about oil seeds, as well as recommended husbandry practices, joint with specific information on market opportunities for oil seeds. The information package on production techniques includes the following contents delivered to all members of farmer groups: use of improved seed varieties, correct plant spacing, how to practice intercropping with other crops, use of herbicides, other practices in weed control, use of pesticide and fertilizer use, storage techniques, pre-storage treatment, and seed treatment. This information is disseminated by extension workers contracted by the VODP2 project through the following activities:
• Farmer Field Demonstration sites (agronomy; improved seed; fertilizer; rhizobium inoculum; pest & diseases; etc)
• Training on post-harvest handling (quality parameters & metrics; time of harvest; harvest techniques; threshing; drying sheets; cleaning; storage; pests & diseases; bulking; etc)
• Training on conservation agriculture (water conservation such as grass strips, agro-forestry; minimum & zero-tillage, soil fertility enhancement including organic matter management & fertiliser use; crop rotations; water harvesting & moisture retention; use of multi-purpose trees for livestock and domestic use; etc)
• Training on farm mechanisation & labour saving techniques (animal traction; various implements; tractor hire; portable threshers; etc)
Moreover the package of information intervention includes specific information on market and business opportunities, i.e. prices for inputs and where to purchase them, prices of outputs and where to sale the products, value addition opportunities and expected profits etc). This information is disseminated by extension workers contracted by the VODP2 project through the following activities:
• Continuous provision of market information including prices for oil seeds throughout the season and project period; this service could be provided through, for example, SMS alert services or other information technology devices, as in other studies (Jensen, 2007; Goyal 2010; Fafchamps and Minten, 2012)
• Financial and business training for farmers (financial literacy, budgeting and record keeping, cropping calendars, etc);
• Training on market information and market intelligence gathering skills: timely provision of prices for different markets and dealers, required quality standards, possible solution to add value to their production
• Training of farmers in household & village oil pressing in outlying areas (operation & maintenance of ram press; other mechanical presses; edible oil hygiene; recipes; meal by-product utilization; etc)
• Training of farmers on complementary income generating activities such as beekeeping and livestock keeping)
• Nutrition awareness campaigns (dietary considerations; preparation of oilseed pastes and edible oil; kitchen gardens; food security crops in the farming calendar; etc)
All of the households receive training on the following two cross cutting issues:
• Training on HIV/AIDS mainstreaming (sensitisation; voluntary testing; overcoming stigma; ARVs; coping mechanisms in affected households; etc) and
• Training on Gender & youth mainstreaming (division of labour in the cropping and post-harvest calendar; the household budget & equity in allocation of oilseeds proceeds; etc)

The evaluation exercise exploits the roll-out structure of the VODP2 project to implement a randomized controlled trial. The project intends to gradually reach the identified beneficiaries, given resource constraints in the possibility to reach all districts at the same time. The level of randomization will be at sub-county level, as it allows to meet organizational issues with research requirements. Randomization at the farmer level is not feasible for several reasons: economies of scale in providing the extension intervention; infeasibility of excluding certain members of a particular farmer group from an extension education session offered to other members; the certainty of externalities, especially in education; concerns about intra-group randomization harming the group’s solidarity. Randomization at a higher level, such as the district, would minimize the risk of externalities between groups. However, this proved not to be possible, due to local organizational constraints.

The roll-out phase will involve a sample of sub-counties randomly assigned to receive the treatment in different moment of time (roll-out phasing). One random group of sub-counties (treated group) will receive the entire package of project interventions at beginning 2016. The second group (control goup) will receive the treatment in mid 2017 (but will start the planting season in August 2017). Both groups will be surveyed in December 2015/January 2016 (baseline survey), before any project activities have started yet. A mid-line survey will be carried out in January 2017 and an endline survey in July 2017 (after the endline survey, the control group may implement the project package).

Depending on the ways extension services are organized, we may face non-compliance, as farmers may not participate training sessions. As long as the service provider visits groups in their geographical context and incentivize farmer participation to training session, the risk of attrition should be minimized.

Surveys will be administered to farmers and group leaders. We will have two main sources of covariates to improve precision and to study heterogeneity in treatment effect. First, data will be collected on individuals’ farming characteristics, farming history as well as useful group-level covariates (e.g. length of group’s existence). Second, we will conduct a detailed household survey at three points in time (baseline, midline, end-line) obtaining data on household demographic characteristics, income, assets, agricultural activities and productivity. Detailed sections of the questionnaires will be dedicated to oilseeds production and knowledge, access to extension services and subjective expectations about returns from oilseeds production and prices.
A mixed approach will also be used through which some sentinel indicators including most-significant changes will be recorded using qualitative instruments. Qualitative data collection through focus group discussions with those who adopt oil seeds technologies as well as those who chose not to will be done to understand facilitators and barriers to adoption of improved oilseed technologies.
Intervention Start Date
2017-10-16
Intervention End Date
2018-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Adoption of oilseeds, share of land allocated to oilseeds, fertilizers, pesticides, harvest of oilseeds, productivity of oilseeds, sales of oilseeds and access to markets.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Farm income, Total Income, Consumption and Wealth
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The impact evaluation exercise exploits the roll-out structure of the VODP2 to implement a randomized controlled trial. The project intends to gradually reach the target beneficiaries, given resource constraints in reaching all districts at the same time. The level of randomization is at sub-county level, as it allows to meet organizational issues with research requirements. The phase-in design involves a sample of eligible sub-counties randomly assigned to receive the treatment in different moments of time. In particular, one random group of sub-counties (treated group) is assigned to receive the entire package of project interventions during 2017. The second group (control group) is expected to receive the treatment in 2018. Both groups are administered a baseline survey between June and September 2016, before any project activities have started. A staggered endline survey is planned to be carried out from January to November 2018: both treated and control groups will be gradually administered an endline survey (staggered endiline), just beforeVODP2 interventions reaches control sub-counties. This will allow us to have a 12 months evaluation window (2 agricultural seasons) obtained from the comparison of early receivers in the treatment group with early receivers in the control group (the same would apply for later receivers in both groups).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in the office by a computer
Randomization Unit
The randomization unit is the farmer group
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
688 farmer groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
3440 farmers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
344 farmer groups per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
I CC MDE Cultivate oilseeds 0.204 0.285 Share of land cultivated with oilseeds 0.158 0.261 Cultivate groundnuts 0.209 0.29 Share of land cultivated with groundnuts 0.156 0.260 Cultivate soy bean 0.174 0.271 Share of land cultivated with soy bean 0.129 0.240 Cultivate sunflower 0.168 0.268 Share of land cultivated with sunflower 0.174 0.273 Cultivate simsim 0.185 0.277 Share of land cultivated with simsim 0.167 0.266 Use some fertilizer 0.190 0.280 Use some pesticide 0.196 0.284 Use some improved seed 0.123 0.235 Use of fertilizer for oilseeds 0.037 0.158 Use of pesticide for oilseed 0.050 0.172 Use of improved seeds for oilseed 0.045 0.167 Productivity of groundnuts. in kg per acre 0.012 0.127 Productivity of soya_bean. in kg per acre 0.036 0.158 Productivity of sunflower. in kg per acre 0.002 0.112 Productivity of simsim. in kg per acre 0.024 0.142 Total revenues from sale of oilseeds 0.022 0.140 Total net revenue (10K Ushs) 0.029 0.149
Supporting Documents and Materials
Documents
Document Name
Research Proposal
Document Type
proposal
Document Description
File
Research Proposal

MD5: f591b261ae02d853f537bde43c5db7c6

SHA1: 4e5b24fdc8bd50c7bed0aa4b7655f0907bf90f25

Uploaded At: December 06, 2019

Document Name
Endline Survey Instrument
Document Type
survey_instrument
Document Description
File
Endline Survey Instrument

MD5: e550c5948f7bb36ac2389fb2b40315d1

SHA1: 11c70250d2a2e8a0d0170721dfd9fda0c7474531

Uploaded At: December 06, 2019

Document Name
Baseline Survey Instrument
Document Type
survey_instrument
Document Description
File
Baseline Survey Instrument

MD5: 30cd24ebdcba361488d607f5d485d3f4

SHA1: 96c4f53c5f0cbe43cd64d3f5668ef2d5481b8970

Uploaded At: December 06, 2019

IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
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Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
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Reports, Papers & Other Materials
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