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

55 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

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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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:

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


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