The Organization and Impact of Relational Sourcing on Smallholder Farmers in the Rwanda Coffee Sector

Last registered on March 10, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Organization and Impact of Relational Sourcing on Smallholder Farmers in the Rwanda Coffee Sector
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008725
Initial registration date
March 09, 2022

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
March 10, 2022, 9:10 PM EST

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

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
London Business School

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
London School of Economics
PI Affiliation
University of Sussex

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-10-01
End date
2022-10-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Agricultural chains are characterized by imperfect markets and contract enforcement. Under these circumstances, buyers and sellers benefit from long-term relationships based on mutual trust. While recent research has made progress in understanding the functioning of these relationships, little is known about how successful relationships can be established, organized, and deployed at scale to benefit smallholder farmers in a cost-effective way. In partnership with a leading coffee exporter, we have set up a pilot in which we design, implement and evaluate the impact of a farmer development program that aims to build relationships between farmers and the company.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Abouaziza, Mohamed , Rocco Macchiavello and Iris Steenkamp. 2022. "The Organization and Impact of Relational Sourcing on Smallholder Farmers in the Rwanda Coffee Sector." AEA RCT Registry. March 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8725
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In partnership with a leading coffee exporter, we set up a pilot study in which we design, implement and evaluate the impact of a Farmer Development Program (FDP) in the Rwanda coffee chain.

First, we evaluate the impact of the FDP on the farmers eligible to join the program using a regression-discontinuity-design (RDD). We examine the spill-over of the FDP program on farmers initially not invited to join the FDP program randomizing the share of farmers eligible to join FDP across zones. Additionally, using experimental methods, we examine the differential impact of two relationship-building organizational interventions embedded into the FDP: i) a relationship manager and ii) a communication intervention.

In this pilot project, we roll out the FDP in four washing stations. We plan to roll out the program to additional coffee washing stations based on the learnings.
Intervention Start Date
2021-12-19
Intervention End Date
2022-08-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Farmer attendance at sessions and engagement with call center.
2. Adoption of agricultural practices
3. Coffee cherry delivery (KG)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Farmer attendance – the number of FDP sessions the farmer attended. These include two agricultural practices sessions and one session on relationship-building. Engagement with the call center – number of calls made to the call center. Both are recorded in administrative data.

2. Best agricultural practices – the extent to which a farmer implemented the agricultural practices covered during the FDP agricultural session. These practices include organic fertilizers, rejuvenating or replacing old trees, pruning, mulching, weeding, shading trees, and pest management. The source of this data is midline/endline surveys and audits.

3. Coffee cherry delivery (KG) - the volume of coffee delivered by a farmer to the partner’s CWS during the harvest season 2022. The source of this data is administrative. We do not expect to find a short-term impact of the FDP on the delivery volume of coffee in this pilot study. Coffee delivery volume is treated as a long-term outcome, given that implementation of agricultural techniques will only result in increased production volume over a substantial period of time. There might be a short-run impact if FDP reduces side-selling which is however reported to be low by farmers at baseline.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Clarity on FDP program expectations and benefits
2. Trust in CWS
3. Traceability of transactions
4. Quality of deliveries
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Clarity on FDP - the extent to which the farmer is aware of the expectations [behavior expected from the farmer] and benefits [incentives are rewards available to farmers when complying with expectations] associated with the FDP.

2. Trust in CWS – the extent to which the farmer reports to trust the CWS. Trust indicators include trust in CWS, RM, CWS promises, CWS management, and CWS farmers.

3. Traceability of transactions – the share of the farmer’s coffee that is traceable as a result of the farmer using a farmer ID card during coffee cherry deliveries at the CWS.

4. Quality coffee cherries – the quality of the coffee cherries at the point of delivery at the CWS. Quality of the cherries is reflected by the quality indicated assigned and the price paid to the farmer.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The empirical strategy of this pilot project consists of a combination of quasi-experimental and experimental methods. We focus on the following three elements: i) the impact of the FDP, ii) the spillover effect of the FDP, and iii) the impact of relationship-building interventions.

First, we evaluate the impact of the FDP. All farmers in the catchment areas are scored at baseline based on deliveries and other observable characteristics. Our sample is split into two groups: 60% of the farmers above the corresponding threshold within their zones (FDP treatment), and the remaining 40% of farmers scoring below the threshold (FDP control). To overcome potential self-selection bias, we exploit the fact that all farmers were scored against pre-determined criteria and were not able to ex-ante manipulate scores to participate in the FDP. By focusing on those farmers just above and below the threshold, we can use a regression discontinuity design (RDD) framework to causally identify the FDP impacts.

Second, we randomized 32 zones in our sample frame into two groups. The first group includes 16 zones with 80% invited farmers (high-intensity zones), and the second group covers 16 zones with 40% invited farmers to the FDP (low-intensity zones). Focusing on the bottom 20% of the farmers in terms of farmer score, this empirical design permits to measure the spillover effects by controlling for the intensity of invited farmers (40% or 80%) within each zone.

Third, we evaluate the impact of two organizational relationship-building interventions using experimental methods. We assess whether having a designated “fixed” relationship manager and whether communication by a familiar versus unfamiliar individual affects the main outcomes.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer using software STATA.
Randomization Unit
* Stage 1: FDP Farmer Selection *
STRATA: CWS x Zone x Gender

* Stage 2: RDD farmer selection *
STRATA: CWS x Farmer score

* Stage 3: Relationship Building Intervention *
a. Relationship manager intervention
STRATA: CWS x Zone x Gender

b. Communication Intervention
STRATA: RM Treatment x Zone x Session
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
* Stage 1: FDP Farmer Selection *
- 32 zones across 4 CWS

* Stage 2: RDD farmer Selection *

* Stage 3: Relationship-building intervention *
- 285 session groups in 32 zones across 4 CWS, each group consists of 10 farmers
Sample size: planned number of observations
Stage 1: FDP Sample size ~ 4900 farmers * Stage 2: RDD farmer Selection * * Stage 3: Relationship-building intervention * Sample size ~2960 farmers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
** Stage 1: FDP Farmer Selection **
* a. FDP RCT
- FDP treatment ~ 2960 farmers
- FDP control ~ 1940 farmers

* b. FDP Intensity
- Low intensity zone ~ 2450 farmers [16 zones]
- High intensity zone ~ 2450 farmers [16 zones]

** Stage 2: RDD farmer Selection **

** Stage 3: Relationship-building intervention **
* a. Relationship Manager Intervention
- Fixed RM ~ 990 farmers [95 groups]
- Placebo RM ~ 990 farmers [95 groups]
- Control RM ~ 980 farmers [95 groups]

* b. Communication Intervention ----
- SMS ~ 724 farmers
- Fixed RM call ~ 743 farmers
- Placebo RM call ~ 741 farmers
- Call center call ~ 751 farmers
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Unit: Individual farmer Strata: CWS x zone X gender DV: Transaction volume. (average volume delivered in 2020 and 2021) Mean: 550.06694 SD: 1124.5861 Rho: 0.01979559 MDE: 28% Please note that delivery volume is a long-term outcome.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
London School of Economics
IRB Approval Date
2022-02-01
IRB Approval Number
53335