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‘Mobile’izing Agricultural Advice: Technology Adoption, Diffusion and Sustainability

57 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2012 Last revised: 3 May 2016

Shawn Allen Cole

Harvard Business School

A. Nilesh Fernando

Harvard University

Date Written: April 29, 2016


We examine the role of management in agricultural productivity, by evaluating a mobile-phone based agricultural advice service provided to farmers in India. Demand for advice is high; and advice changes practices, increasing yields in cumin (28%) and cotton (8.6%, for a sub-group receiving reminders). Information spreads, as non-treated farmers with more treated peers change practices and lose less to pest attacks. Though willingness to pay for the service is low, the value of the information externality exceeds the subsidy that would be necessary to operate the service. We estimate each dollar spent on the service yields a $10 private return.

Keywords: Technology Adoption, Agricultural Extension, Informational Inefficiencies

JEL Classification: O12, O13, Q16

Suggested Citation

Cole, Shawn Allen and Fernando, A. Nilesh, ‘Mobile’izing Agricultural Advice: Technology Adoption, Diffusion and Sustainability (April 29, 2016). Harvard Business School Finance Working Paper No. 13-047. Available at SSRN: or

Shawn Allen Cole (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

A. Nilesh Fernando

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


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