Can Smallholder Extension Transform African Agriculture?
61 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020 Last revised: 10 Sep 2021
Date Written: July 2019
Agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind all other regions of the world. Decades of investment in agricultural research and extension have yielded more evidence on what fails than on what works—especially for the small-scale producers who dominate the sector. We study a program that targets multiple constraints to productivity at once, similar to anti-poverty “graduation” interventions. Analyzing a randomized controlled trial in western Kenya, we find that participation causes statistically and economically significant gains in output, yields, and profits. In our preferred specification, the program increases maize production by 26% and profits by 16%. The program increases yields uniformly across the sample, while treatment effects on total output and profit impacts are slightly attenuated at the top end of the distribution.
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