Misperceived Quality: Fertilizer in Tanzania

57 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2018

See all articles by Hope Michelson

Hope Michelson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Anna Fairbairn

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Annemie Maertens

University of Sussex

Brenna Ellison

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics

Victor A. Manyong

International Instititute of Tropical Agriculture

Date Written: October 2, 2018

Abstract

Fertilizer use remains below recommended rates in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to poor crop yields and poverty. Farmers voice suspicion that available fertilizer is often adulterated, but these concerns are not backed by reliable evidence. In fact, an insight from industry but absent from academic literature is that profitable fertilizer adulteration is difficult. We surveyed all fertilizer sellers in Morogoro Region, Tanzania and tested 633 samples of their fertilizer. We also conducted a willingness-to-pay assessment with farmers. We find that fertilizers meet nutrient standards but that belief of rampant product adulteration persists among farmers. We find evidence of a quality inference problem in the market: 25% of fertilizer has deteriorated in observable ways and farmers rely on these observable attributes to (incorrectly) assess unobservable nutrient quality. We show that this misperception likely reduces technology adoption beyond the effect of nutrient quality being unobservable.

JEL Classification: Q12, D82, O13

Suggested Citation

Michelson, H.C. and Fairbairn, Anna and Maertens, Annemie and Ellison, Brenna and Manyong, Victor M, Misperceived Quality: Fertilizer in Tanzania (October 2, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3259554 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3259554

H.C. Michelson (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Anna Fairbairn

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics ( email )

1301 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

Annemie Maertens

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Brenna Ellison

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics ( email )

1301 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

Victor M Manyong

International Instititute of Tropical Agriculture ( email )

PMB 5320, Oyo Road, Ibadan
Oyo State, Dar es Salaam 200001
Tanzania
+255 23 2402370/1 (Phone)
+255 23 2402372/2775021 (Fax)

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