Profitability of Fertilizer: Experimental Evidence from Female Rice Farmers in Mali

8 Pages Posted: 9 Feb 2013

See all articles by Lori A. Beaman

Lori A. Beaman

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

Dean S. Karlan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Bram Thuysbaert

University of Ghent; Innovations for Poverty Action

Christopher Udry

Northwestern University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2013

Abstract

In an experiment providing fertilizer grants to women rice farmers in Mali, we found that women who received fertilizer increased both the quantity of fertilizer they used on their plots and complementary inputs such as herbicides and hired labor. This highlights that farmers respond to an increase in availability of one input by re-optimizing other inputs, making it challenging to isolate the returns to any one input. We also found that while the increase in inputs led to a significantly higher level of output, we find no evidence that profits increased. Our results suggest that fertilizer's impact on profits is small compared to other sources of variation. This may make it difficult for farmers to observe the impact of fertilizer on their plots, and accordingly this affects their ability to learn about the returns to fertilizer and could affect their decision to adopt even in the absence of credit constraints.

Suggested Citation

Beaman, Lori A. and Karlan, Dean S. and Thuysbaert, Bram and Udry, Christopher, Profitability of Fertilizer: Experimental Evidence from Female Rice Farmers in Mali (February 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w18778. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2214247

Lori A. Beaman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Dean S. Karlan

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

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Yale University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Bram Thuysbaert

University of Ghent ( email )

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Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

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Christopher Udry

Northwestern University ( email )

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Evanston, IL 60208
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