Can smallholder extension transform African agriculture?

Last registered on February 19, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Can smallholder extension transform African agriculture?
Initial registration date
February 18, 2021

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 19, 2021, 11:22 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator

Office of Evaluation Sciences, U.S. General Services Administration

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
University of Wisconsin-Madison
PI Affiliation
University of Sydney

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind all other regions of the world. Decades of investment in agricultural research and extension have yielded more evidence on what fails than on what works—especially for the small-scale producers who dominate the sector. We study a program that targets multiple constraints to productivity at once, similar to anti-poverty “graduation” interventions. Analyzing a randomized controlled trial in western Kenya, we find that participation causes statistically and economically significant gains in output, yields, and profits. In our preferred specification, the program increases maize production by 26% and profits by 16%. The program increases yields uniformly across the sample, while treatment effects on total output and profit impacts are slightly attenuated at the top end of the distribution.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Deutschmann, Joshua et al. 2021. "Can smallholder extension transform African agriculture?." AEA RCT Registry. February 19.
Experimental Details


Farmers in the the treatment group received One Acre Fund's “market bundle” which provides farmer groups with group-liability loans for improved seeds and fertilizer, regular training on modern agricultural techniques, crop and funeral insurance, and market facilitation support to help farmers obtain higher prices for their output.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes are program maize yields, total maize output, and profits. Program maize yields are treated farmers' per-acre yield on their enrolled plot. Total maize output is a weighted average of per-acre yields on the enrolled vs. non-enrolled plot (with weights proportional to the amount of land in each category). To obtain "crop cut" yields, enumerators collected and physically weighed fresh and dry harvests from two randomly placed 40-square-meter boxes. Cultivated land sizes were measured by GPS readings, with enumerators
walking the boundaries of each plot three times.

We calculate profi t as the value of output less farmers' costs. Revenues are the product of total output and average market prices from nearby vendors. For control farmers, input costs are elicited via self-reports. For treatment farmers, we know the input costs on the enrolled land (since these are administered by the program); we elicit other input costs with self-reports.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Recruitment, enrollment, and program implementation for this experiment took place in the Teso region of Kenya, following 1AF's standard
protocol. Farmers who satisfied the basic program criteria paid a participation deposit of approximately $5 USD. Once participants had self-selected into groups of 8-12 farmers, the randomization was conducted at the level of clusters, which consisted of 2-4 of these joint-liability farmer groups.

Although 1AF had never offered its program to the sampled villages, some farmers had managed to access it anyway, by "commuting" to
neighboring villages to participate. As pre-exposed farmers may introduce bias into our results we report our main results both for the full sample and for the "primary sample," which refers to the sample of farmers who had never participated in 1AF programming.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
A public lottery assigned groups of farmers into treatment clusters
Randomization Unit
cluster, where each cluster is made up of 2-4 farmer groups
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
120 clusters, each cluster is made up of 2-4 farmer groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
2545 farmers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60 clusters in treatment and 60 clusters in control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Strathmore University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
SU/IRB 0062/16


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
June 01, 2017, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
June 01, 2017, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials