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How Do Farmers Learn from Extension Services? Evidence from Malawi

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  • Annemie Maertens
  • Hope Michelson
  • Vesall Nourani

Abstract

Though extension services have long since proved their value to agricultural production and farmer prosperity, their record in sub‐Saharan Africa has been mixed. To study the impact of such programs on farmers' learning about agricultural technologies, we implemented a quasi‐randomized controlled trial and collected detailed panel data among Malawian farmers. Based on those findings, we develop a two‐stage learning framework, in which farmers formulate yield expectations before deciding on how much effort to invest in learning about these processes. Using data centered on farmer beliefs, knowledge, and constraints, we find evidence that beliefs about potential yields hinge on first‐hand and local experience, and that these beliefs significantly impact learning efforts. Consistent with this, we find that farmers who participated in season‐long, farmer‐led demonstration plot cultivation plan to adopt more components of new multi‐component technology, compared to farmers who were invited to attend only field‐day events.

Suggested Citation

  • Annemie Maertens & Hope Michelson & Vesall Nourani, 2021. "How Do Farmers Learn from Extension Services? Evidence from Malawi," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(2), pages 569-595, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:ajagec:v:103:y:2021:i:2:p:569-595
    DOI: 10.1111/ajae.12135
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    3. Christopher B. Barrett & Asad Islam & Abdul Mohammad Malek & Debayan Pakrashi & Ummul Ruthbah, 2022. "Experimental Evidence on Adoption and Impact of the System of Rice Intensification," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 104(1), pages 4-32, January.
    4. Satoshi Shimizutani & Shimpei Taguchi & Eiji Yamada & Hiroyuki Yamada, 2021. "The Impact of "Grow to Sell" Agricultural Extension on Smallholder Horticulture Farmers: Evidence from a Market- Oriented Approach in Kenya," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2021-020, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
    5. Abay, Kibrom A. & Barrett, Christopher B. & Kilic, Talip & Moylan, Heather & Ilukor, John & Vundru, Wilbert Drazi, 2023. "Nonclassical measurement error and farmers’ response to information treatment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C).
    6. Berazneva, Julia & Maertens, Annemie & Mhango, Wezi & Michelson, Hope, 2023. "Paying for agricultural information in Malawi: The role of soil heterogeneity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C).
    7. Bambio, Yiriyibin & Deb, Anurag & Kazianga, Harounan, 2022. "Exposure to agricultural technologies and adoption: The West Africa agricultural productivity program in Ghana, Senegal and Mali," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C).
    8. Aminou Arouna & Jeffrey D. Michler & Wilfried G. Yergo & Kazuki Saito, 2021. "One Size Fits All? Experimental Evidence on the Digital Delivery of Personalized Extension Advice in Nigeria," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(2), pages 596-619, March.
    9. Leight, Jessica & Awonon, Josué & Pedehombga, Abdoulaye & Ganaba, Rasmané & Gelli, Aulo, 2022. "How light is too light touch: The effect of a short training-based intervention on household poultry production in Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    10. Rida Akzar & Wendy Umberger & Alexandra Peralta, 2023. "Understanding heterogeneity in technology adoption among Indonesian smallholder dairy farmers," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(2), pages 347-370, March.
    11. Travis J. Lybbert & Ashish Shenoy & Tomoé Bourdier & Caitlin Kieran, 2024. "Striving to revive pulses in India with extension, input subsidies, and output price supports†," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 106(3), pages 1167-1192, May.

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