Using Causal Impact Evidence When Scaling Agricultural Innovations: The Promise of Private Partnerships

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In their feedback to the OneCGIAR Research Strategy, SPIA emphasized the need to have rigorous causal impact studies provide feedback loops in early stages of the research process in order to ensure greater impact of CGIAR innovations. A recently released paper by Manzoor Dar, Alain de Janvry, Kyle Emerick, Eleanor Wiseman and Elisabeth Sadoulet, provides a good example of such a study. The paper explores the effectiveness of private-sector partnerships in promoting the adoption of new agricultural technologies. The authors find that helping private input suppliers learn about new technology increases farm-level adoption by over 50% compared to the more commonly used public sector approach.

An important factor keeping farmers from adopting new agricultural technologies is lack of information. To break down such information barriers to adoption, a common approach is for public sector agricultural extension agents to provide information about the new technology to selected contact farmers, and then rely on these farmers to spread this knowledge further in their networks. Dar et al. conducted an experiment where they compared the standard public-sector approach to an intervention that instead directly targets local private seed dealers with information about a new flood-tolerant rice variety.

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