November 15, 2022
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Posted by NCID
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Karen Macours, chaired professor at the Paris School of Economics (PSE), and senior researcher (directrice de recherche) at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) visited NCID to give a seminar entitled Comparative Advantage and Technology Diffusion: a Menu-based Approach to Dissemination. The speaker explained that a simple version of the “contact farmer” extension model can meaningfully increase farmers´ revenues, provide scalable, cost-effective extension to smallholders, at odds with the skepticism that prevailed in the past decades. The research evaluated technology upgrading intervention for small holder dairy farmers in Uganda.

This is a crucial field because there is a certain need for “climate adaption and the need for farmers to shift to new type of technologies and practices”. According to Macours, “the specific program we evaluate had already served 40,000 dairy farmers in three countries before starting the evaluation, and its main features resemble basic volunteer farmer trainer programs found elsewhere, including the absence of monetary incentives”.

The program that this paper propose relies upon farmers’ individual decision to select from a broad menu of practices: “We find robust positive impacts on knowledge, adoption, and milk production, and overall positive impacts on net revenues (or profits)”.

Macours also confirmed that “the specific mechanisms through which the FT program obtains these meaningful gains bring novel insights to the literature on social learning in the context of strong heterogeneity within a network”.