Many smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa do not use basic agricultural technologies to improve crop quality. Lack of access to these technologies, information about how to use them, and financial services drive low adoption rates throughout the region. Onion producers in Podor, Senegal, have little choice of where and when to sell their produce, due to high transportation costs, lack of storage facilities, and high perishability. In this project, researchers tested whether receiving advance information on a market reform—introducing quality labels for onions, and selling by weight—would lead to changes in farmers’ production habits. To do so, they ran information sessions for randomly selected farmers in the middle of the planting season, then evaluated how farmers responded by collecting price, quality, and weight data before and after labeling was introduced. Results showed that onion farmers who received information about the reform were more likely to adopt practices to improve quality, leading to substantial revenue gains. In addition, farmers who adopted these practices did produce quality onions at higher rates. Despite these gains, the reforms were abandoned in the following season, largely due to opposition from traders. Thus, while effective, these reforms may need better regulatory power to be sustained.
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