Information, Technology Adoption and Productivity: The Role of Mobile Phones in Agriculture
55 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020 Last revised: 20 Apr 2022
Date Written: May 2020
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.
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