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Identifying and Addressing Failures in the Market for Information

Agriculture Kenya

Across Africa, soil and agro-climatic conditions vary dramatically from place to place. Providing better information to farmers about local agricultural conditions could enable them to make more informed and locally appropriate agricultural decisions, with potentially positive consequences for their income, food production, and the environment. This pilot study and other follow-up research in Western Kenya will test for failures in the market for local agricultural information and measure the impact of disseminating information on farmers’ decisions to invest in agricultural inputs. First, researchers will conduct a randomized evaluation to better understand how soil tests and test plots affect smallholder farmers’ decisions to purchase fertilizer. Second, researchers will measure demand for local agricultural information by eliciting farmers’ willingness to pay for test plot and soil test results from other farmers in their area. Third, researchers will work with the second study sample to examine the relative effectiveness of farmer field days and SMS interventions on farmers’ knowledge and investment decision. Once results from the endline surveys are in, researchers will compare all of the information inventions tested to identify the most cost-effective and scalable solutions. Results forthcoming.

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