Cowpeas are an important cash crop for farmers in West Africa, and particularly in Niger, the second largest cowpea producer in the world. During storage, cowpeas are highly susceptible to degradation by the cowpea weevil, a pervasive agricultural pest. Despite the importance of this issue for millions of farmers and traders, adoption of a proven technology to minimize storage losses – hermetically sealed bags, or PICS – remains low in most areas of West Africa, and Niger in particular. In 2016, the researchers conducted a pilot study across 63 villages and 31 markets in Niger designed to understand the barriers to adoption of this technology. Based on the insights from that study, they now are conducting a randomized controlled trial involving three interventions to address the demand- and supply-side constraints associated with PICS adoption: 1) an information treatment for farmers that covers the full costs of traditional storage technologies; 2) a subsidy intervention for farmers, to address liquidity constraints pre-harvest; and 3) a stocking and buy-back guarantee for traders (input suppliers), to ensure steady availability of the bags across at least two seasons. The results will enable measurement of the relative impacts of relaxing supply and demand-side constraints to market development and technology adoption, as well as the relative cost effectiveness of these different strategies. Results forthcoming.
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