Africa

  • Impact of Farmer Field Schools on Agricultural Productivity and Poverty in East Africa

    Davis and others (2010)

    Original Abstract:

    Farmer field schools (FFSs) are a popular education and extension approach worldwide. Such schools use experiential learning and a group approach to facilitate farmers in making decisions, solving problems, and learning new techniques. However, there is limited or conflicting evidence as to their effect on productivity and poverty, especially in East Africa. This study is unique in that it uses a longitudinal impact evaluation (difference in difference approach) with quasi-experimental methods (propensity score matching and covariate matching) together with qualitative approaches to provide rigorous evidence to policymakers and other stakeholders on an FFS project in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The study provides evidence on participation in FFSs and on the effects of FFSs on various outcomes. The study found that younger farmers who belong to other groups, such as savings and credit groups, tended to participate in field schools. Females made up 50 percent of FFS membership. Reasons for not joining an FFS included lack of time and information. FFSs were shown to be especially beneficial to women, people with low literacy levels, and farmers with medium-size land holdings. FFS participants had significant differences in outcomes with respect to value of crops produced per acre, livestock value gain per capita, and agricultural income per capita. FFSs had a greater impact on crop productivity for those in the middle land area (land poverty) tercile. Participation in FFSs increased income by 61 percent when pooling the three countries. FFSs improved income and productivity overall, but differences were seen at the country level. Participation in FFSs led to increased production, productivity, and income in nearly all cases: Kenya, Tanzania, and at the project level (all three countries combined). The most significant change was seen in Kenya for crops (80 percent increase) and in Tanzania for agricultural income (more than 100 percent increase). A lack of significant increases in Uganda was likely due to Uganda's National Agricultural Advisory Services. When disaggregating by gender, however, female-headed households benefited significantly more than male-headed households in Uganda.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Farmer field schools with 50% female participation.

    Methodology: Difference in differences estimation with propensity score matching.

    Sample: Poor households (50% female-headed) randomly selected, with and without farmer field schools.

    Findings: FFS increased the value of crops grown and agricultural income per capita (61% in the pooled sample), especially among women.

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  • Commitments to Save: A Field Experiment in Rural Malawi

    Bruné, Giné, Goldberg and Yang (2011)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper reports the results of a field experiment that randomly assigned smallholder cash crop farmers formal savings accounts. In collaboration with a microfinance institution in Malawi, the authors tested two primary treatments, offering either: 1)"ordinary"accounts, or 2) both ordinary and"commitment"accounts. Commitment accounts allowed customers to restrict access to their own funds until a future date of their choosing. A control group was not offered any account but was tracked alongside the treatment groups. Only the commitment treatment had statistically significant effects on subsequent outcomes. The effects were positive and large on deposits and withdrawals immediately prior to the next planting season, agricultural input use in that planting, crop sales from the subsequent harvest, and household expenditures in the period after harvest. Across the set of key outcomes, the commitment savings treatment had larger effects than the ordinary savings treatment. Additional evidence suggests that the positive impacts of commitment derive from keeping funds from being shared with one's social network.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Provided either an ordinary savings account to rural smallholders with direct deposits of sales revenue from participating agri-businesses or both an ordinary savings account and a "commitment" savings account.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 3,150 (6% women) poor and low-middle income farmers in 299 clubs.

    Findings: Increased land under cultivation (9.8%), use of agricultural inputs (26.2%), crop sales from subsequent harvest (22%), and HH expenditure during post-harvest (17.4%). No gender-specific effects are reported.

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  • Impacts of Land Certification on Tenure, Security, Investment, and Land Markets: Evidence from Ethiopia

    Deininger, Ali and Alemu (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    While early attempts at land titling in Africa were often unsuccessful, the need to secure land rights has kindled renewed interest, in view of increased demand for land, a range of individual and communal rights available under new laws, and reduced costs from combining information technology with participatory methods. We used a difference-in-difference approach to assess the effects of a low-cost land registration program in Ethiopia, which covered some 20 million plots over five years, on investment. Despite policy constraints, the program increased land-related investment and yielded benefits significantly above the cost of implementation.

    Intervention settings: Rural: East Gojjam zone of the Amhara region.

    Intervention description: Low-cost land registration scheme covering 20 million plots over 5 years.

    Methodology: Difference in differences estimation using four rounds of panel survey data spanning 8 years.

    Sample: 900 plots owned by households from 7 villages in 3 districts.

    Findings: Significant positive effect on the three outcomes examined: i.e., perceived tenure security, land-related investments and participation in land rental markets.

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  • Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya

    Dupas and Robinson (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    Does limited access to formal savings services impede business growth in poor countries? To shed light on this question, we randomized access to non-interest-bearing bank accounts among two types of self-employed individuals in rural Kenya: market vendors (who are mostly women) and men working as bicycle-taxi drivers. Despite large withdrawal fees, a substantial share of market women used the accounts, were able to save more, and increased their productive investment and private expenditures. We see no impact for bicycle-taxi drivers. These results imply significant barriers to savings and investment for market women in our study context. Further work is needed to understand what those barriers are, and to test whether the results generalize to other types of businesses or individuals.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Individual commitment savings products offered by a village bank. Interest-free account; high withdrawal fees. Tested the importance of savings constraints for self-employed individuals.

    Methodology: RCT - Moderate rigor (small sample size).

    Sample: 185 microentpreneurs.

    Findings: Positive impact of savings on business investment among women (40% increase). Increase in women's private expenditures (37 to 40% higher). Some impact on making women less vulnerable to health shocks. No effect for men.

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  • How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya

    Duflo, Kremer and Robinson (2008)

    Original Abstract:

    N/A

    Intervention settings: Rural: Busia district.

    Intervention description: Free fertilizer and hybrid seeds provided to randomly selected farmers. Assistance in applying the inputs correctly and harvesting the crops.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 673 farmers with children enrolled in schools (randomly selected from school enrollment list).

    Findings: Median increased in yields from 9% to 49% (depending on the fertilizer treatment). However, median rates of return were positive for only one of the treatments.

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  • Challenges in Banking the Rural Poor: Evidence from Kenya's Western Province

    Dupas and Robinson (2012)

    Original Abstract:

    Most people in rural Africa do not have bank accounts. In this paper, we combine experimental and survey evidence from Western Kenya to document some of the supply and demand factors behind such low levels of financial inclusion. Our experiment had two parts. In the first part, we waived the fixed cost of opening a basic savings account at a local bank for a random subset of individuals who were initially unbanked. While 63% of people opened an account, only 18% actively used it. Survey evidence suggests that the main reasons people did not begin saving in their bank accounts are that: (1) they do not trust the bank, (2) service is unreliable, and (3) withdrawal fees are prohibitively expensive. In the second part of the experiment, we provided information on local credit options and lowered the eligibility requirements for an initial small loan. Within the following 6 months, only 3% of people initiated the loan application process. Survey evidence suggests that people do not borrow because they do not want to risk losing their collateral. These results suggest that, while simply expanding access to banking services (for instance by lowering account opening fees) will benefit a minority, broader success may be unobtainable unless the quality of services is simultaneously improved. There are also challenges on the demand side, however. More work needs to be done to understand what savings and credit products are best suited for the majority of rural households.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Provided safe place (metal box) to save money with randomly varying levels of commitment to save.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 771 Members of 113 rotating savings clubs (ROSCAs) in one administrative division of western Kenya.

    Findings: Preventive health investments increased by 68%. The share of households achieving their savings goals increased by 13% (compared to 34% in the control group). Three years later 39% of those who received metal boxes were still using them for saving. Larger effects found among married than among unmarried females. The results also suggest that savings programs that do not restrict liquidity are most effective.

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  • Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya

    Duflo, Kremer and Robinson (2009)

    Original Abstract:

    While many developing-country policymakers see heavy fertilizer subsidies as critical to raising agricultural productivity, most economists see them as distortionary, regressive, environmentally unsound, and argue that they result in politicized, inefficient distribution of fertilizer supply. We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer, and assume some are stochastically present-biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Even when relatively patient, such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer (free delivery) just after harvest. Later discounts have a smaller impact, and when given a choice of price schedules, many farmers choose schedules that induce advance purchase. Calibration suggests such small, time-limited discounts yield higher welfare than either laissez faire or heavy subsidies by helping present-biased farmers commit to fertilizer use without inducing those with standard preferences to substantially overuse fertilizer.

    Intervention settings: Rural: Busia district.

    Intervention description: Farmers randomly offered one of the following: the chance to purchase a voucher immediately after the harvest, the chance to purchase at the time of their choosing, fertilizer at regular price with free delivery 2-4 months after harvest or fertilizer at a 50% subsidy with free delivery 2-4 months after harvest.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 924 farmers (841 in follow-up) with children enrolled in 16 local schools.

    Findings: Fertilizer use increased in every group (from 14-22% on a base of 23%), except for the group allowed to purchase fertilizer at the regular price.

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  • When is Capital Enough to Get Microenterprises Growing? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Ghana

    Fafchamps et al (2010)

    Original Abstract:

    Standard models of investment predict that credit-constrained firms should grow rapidly when given additional capital, and that how this capital is provided should not affect decisions to invest in the business or consume the capital. We randomly gave cash and in-kind grants to male- and female-owned microenterprises in urban Ghana. Our findings cast doubt on the ability of capital alone to stimulate the growth of female microenterprises. First, while the average treatment effects of the in-kind grants are large and positive for both males and females, the gain in profits is almost zero for women with initial profits below the median, suggesting that capital alone is not enough to grow subsistence enterprises owned by women. Second, for women we strongly reject equality of the cash and in-kind grants; only in-kind grants lead to growth in business profits. The results for men also suggest a lower impact of cash, but differences between cash and in-kind grants are less robust. The difference in the effects of cash and in-kind grants is associated more with a lack of self-control than with external pressure. As a result, the manner in which funding is provided affects microenterprise growth.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Capital grants in cash or in-kind ($120) as proxy to credit.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Entrepreneurs (more than half of sample).

    Findings: Both cash and in-kind grants had positive impact on men's businesses. In-kind grants led to higher profits only for women with initially larger, higher-profit businesses. No significant impact on per capita expenditure. No overall impact of grants on women's business investment or income; heterogeneous impact that depends on initial business size and profitability, and type of capital injection (in-kind have positive impact on more successful firms). Cash grants have no impact on women's businesses; tend to be used for HH expenses. No impact of grants on profits of women with initially below average profit businesses.

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  • Control and Ownership of Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households

    Fafchamps and Quisumbing (2002)

    Original Abstract:

    This paper investigates how the control and devolution of productive assets are allocated among husband and wife. Using detailed household data from rural Ethiopia, the authors show that assets brought to marriage, ownership of assets, control within marriage, and disposition upon death or divorce are only partly related.

    Intervention settings:

    Intervention description: Land titling.

    Methodology: Logit, probit, tobit with 1995/96 and 1997 household surveys.

    Sample: 1,420 households (23% female-headed).

    Findings: Land that women bring with them into a marriage as assets served as a strong predictor of their control over productive assets during the marriage, including the right to rent land.

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  • A Psychological Personal Initiative Training Enhances Business Success of African Business Owners

    Glaub, Frese, Fischer, and Hoppe (2012)

    Intervention settings: Rural

    Intervention description: Three-day course focused on personal intitiative through a psychological intervention aimed at making business owners more likely to self-start new ideas on products and processes, be more proactive in preparing future opportunities and problems, and be persistent in overcoming barriers.

    Methodology: RCT

    Sample: 109 male and female business owners.

    Findings: 57.4% increase in revenues using difference in difference calculation. Study reports difference in log sales is signficant at 1% level.

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