Agricultural extension system reform and agent time allocation in China
We conducted a nationally representative survey to measure the impact of China's institutional reforms in public agricultural extension on the time allocation of its one million agricultural extension agents. We found that Chinese agents spent much less time than their titles would suggest on providing agricultural extension services, and that agents whose base salaries were funded fully or partially by commercial activities spent substantially less time serving farmers. The institutional incentives associated with the source of funding have a much larger effect on agent time allocation than do the levels of funding. We conclude that the recent government policy to separate commercial activities from extension services is a step in the right direction and should be expanded. The results also suggest that, at least for agricultural extension, the goal of many national governments and international donors to develop locally financing institutions to sustain development projects may be misguided.
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