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Lemon technologies and adoption: measurement, theory and evidence from agricultural markets in Uganda


Bold, Tessa; Kaizzi, Kayuki C; Svensson, Jakob; Yanagizawa-Drott, David (2017). Lemon technologies and adoption: measurement, theory and evidence from agricultural markets in Uganda. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132(3):1055-1100.

Abstract

To reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa requires raising productivity in agriculture. Systematic use of fertilizer and hybrid seed is a pathway to increased productivity, but adoption of these technologies remains low. We investigate whether the quality of agricultural inputs can help explain low take-up. Testing modern products purchased in local markets, we find that 30% of nutrient is missing in fertilizer, and hybrid maize seed is estimated to contain less than 50% authentic seeds. We document that such low quality results in low average returns. If authentic technologies replaced these low-quality products, however, average returns are high. To rationalize the findings, we calibrate a learning model using data from our agricultural trials. Because agricultural yields are noisy, farmers’ ability to learn about quality is limited and this can help explain the low quality equilibrium we observe, but also why the market has not fully collapsed.

Abstract

To reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa requires raising productivity in agriculture. Systematic use of fertilizer and hybrid seed is a pathway to increased productivity, but adoption of these technologies remains low. We investigate whether the quality of agricultural inputs can help explain low take-up. Testing modern products purchased in local markets, we find that 30% of nutrient is missing in fertilizer, and hybrid maize seed is estimated to contain less than 50% authentic seeds. We document that such low quality results in low average returns. If authentic technologies replaced these low-quality products, however, average returns are high. To rationalize the findings, we calibrate a learning model using data from our agricultural trials. Because agricultural yields are noisy, farmers’ ability to learn about quality is limited and this can help explain the low quality equilibrium we observe, but also why the market has not fully collapsed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:23 May 2017 13:20
Last Modified:21 Jul 2017 01:02
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0033-5533
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjx009

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