Information, Technology Adoption and Productivity: The Role of Mobile Phones in Agriculture

55 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020 Last revised: 20 Apr 2022

See all articles by Apoorv Gupta

Apoorv Gupta

Dartmouth College

Jacopo Ponticelli

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management

Andrea Tesei

Queen Mary University of London - School of Economics and Finance; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

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Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

We study the effect of information on technology adoption and productivity in agriculture. Our empirical strategy exploits the expansion of the mobile phone network in previously uncovered areas of rural India coupled with the availability of call centers for agricultural advice. We measure information on agricultural practices by analyzing the content of 2.5 million phone calls made by farmers to one of India's leading call centers for agricultural advice. We find that areas receiving coverage from new towers and with no language barriers between farmers and advisers answering their calls experience higher adoption of high yielding varieties of seeds and other complementary inputs, as well as higher increase in agricultural productivity. Our estimates indicate that information frictions can explain around 25 percent of the agricultural productivity gap between the most productive and the least productive areas in our sample.

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Apoorv and Ponticelli, Jacopo and Tesei, Andrea, Information, Technology Adoption and Productivity: The Role of Mobile Phones in Agriculture (May 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27192, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3609644

Apoorv Gupta (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Jacopo Ponticelli

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Andrea Tesei

Queen Mary University of London - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Mile End Rd.
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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