Testing the Value of ICT Advice in Madhya Pradesh

Last registered on April 01, 2015


Trial Information

General Information

Testing the Value of ICT Advice in Madhya Pradesh
Initial registration date
April 01, 2015

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
April 01, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
Harvard Kennedy School

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
As the use of mobile phones continues to spread to the most remote parts of developing economies, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are becoming an increasingly viable alternative as a timely and effective source of agricultural information. Having already conducted a randomized evaluation of mobile-phone based agricultural consulting service “Avaaj Otalo (AO)” with cotton farmers in Surendranagar, Gujarat; we saw that the demand for agricultural information is high, with more than half the farmers calling in to the AO line. We also saw changes in agricultural management practices and decreased reliance on other farmers and input dealers for agricultural information. While agricultural practices seem to have changed, the average respondent did not demonstrate improved average knowledge. Given these results, we are interested in expanding the scope of our study to roughly 3000 additional cotton farmers in Madhya Pradesh. We hope that this expansion will allow us to further explore the project’s key questions including the impact of expert agricultural advice and dynamics of knowledge propagation with deeper statistical power.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cole, Shawn, A. Nilesh Fernando and HK Hee Kwon Seo. 2015. "Testing the Value of ICT Advice in Madhya Pradesh." AEA RCT Registry. April 01. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.680-1.0
Former Citation
Cole, Shawn, A. Nilesh Fernando and HK Hee Kwon Seo. 2015. "Testing the Value of ICT Advice in Madhya Pradesh." AEA RCT Registry. April 01. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/680/history/3972
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Experimental Details


Treatment respondents will receive access to “Avaaj-Otalo (AO)” – a toll-free agricultural helpline through which farmers receive weekly push voice messages providing relevant agricultural information based on local crop and weather content. Additionally, farmers can also use this service to listen to and respond to agricultural questions posed by other farmers, record their own questions, and also to share their agricultural experiences. The use of this service is completely voluntary, and does not involve any monetary contribution by the farmers.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Use of service, agricultural practices, agricultural productivity knowledge
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
As in the case of our earlier study, we are interested in exploring how the use of AO impacts agricultural management practices. For instance, do farmers spend less on more harmful pesticides, do they end up using more of the recommended inputs, etc. We are also interested in seeing if there is a greater reliance on mobile-phone based sources for agricultural information as compared to other farmers or input dealers. We also study if changes in agricultural behavior lead to a change in agricultural knowledge. Finally, we look at crop yields, education, total expenditure and outcomes to see if these changes in agricultural practices have led to better overall outcomes for the farmers.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Treatment will be randomized at two levels: first by learning group (LG), which are groups of 2-30 farmers who come together to receive information from ASA, as well as within the LG. Essentially, this means that about half of the entire sample would receive the intervention. The original baseline and endline survey will not be administered to the farmers in Madhya Pradesh. Instead, two 30-minute phone surveys will be conducted to all or a subset of farmers--one during the season, and again at the end of the season.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office using a computer
Randomization Unit
Clustered at the learning group level and then randomized at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Learning groups are divided into three clusters – Group 1 includes all treatment farmers, Group 2 includes roughly half treatment farmers and half control, Group 3 includes all control farmers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2893 BCI-affiliated cotton farmers who own a cellphone and grow cotton were chosen to be part of this study.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1453 treatment farmers, and 1440 pure control farmers.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Power calculation: Minimum Detectable Effect Size for Main Outcomes : (Accounting for sample design and clustering, what is the minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes. Specify the unit, standard deviation, and percentage) Main Outcome Variables MDE As % of Mean Std. Dev Total Cotton Harvested (kilogram) 138.09 0.08 1153.35 Gross Income (in rupees) 6391.5 0.09 55488.00 Expenditure on Fertilizers (in rupees) 590.11 0.10 4654.19 Expenditure on Pesticides (in rupees) 345.62 0.09 2602.51 Expenditure on Seeds (in rupees) 153.25 0.05 1253.10 Expenditure on Irrigation (in rupees) 214.22 0.26 1472.40

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard-Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
MOD- F20544-03


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