A Pathway to Adoption of Yield-enhancing Agricultural Technologies among the Rural Poor: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Benin
We tested a novel way of encouraging the adoption of improved maize seeds in Benin. In the treatment group, farmers were provided with intensive agricultural-extension support and a full package of inputs to test on one of their plots. In the control group, farmers were offered improved seeds, and agricultural-extension agents gave them only limited support. Our treatment was designed to encourage farmers to experiment with improved seeds by providing intensive technical support and free inputs throughout the maize crop season. Using a cluster randomized design and data on farmers’ experimental plots, we found a 23% increase in maize yields with our intervention as compared to the less resource-intensive policy solution. Further analyses suggested that it was not enough to expose farmers to a one-time resource-intensive model because the impact on their production was not long-lasting.