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Better Technology, Better Plots or Better Farmers? Identifying Changes In Productivity and Risk Among Malagasy Rice Farmers

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  • Barrett, Christopher B.
  • Moser, Christine M.
  • Barison, Joeli
  • McHugh, Oloro V.

Abstract

It is often difficult to determine the extent to which observed output gains are due to a new technology itself, rather than to the skill of the farmer or the quality of the plot on which the new technology is tried. This attribution problem becomes especially important when technologies are not embodied in purchased inputs but result instead from changed farmer cultivation practices. We introduce a method for properly attributing observed productivity and risk changes among new production methods, farmers and plots by controlling for farmer and plot heterogeneity using differential production and yield risk functions. Results from Madagascar show that the new system of rice intensification (SRI) is indeed a superior technology. Although most observed productivity gains appear due to farmer aptitude, the technology alone generates estimated average output gains of more than 37 percent. These findings also help resolve several outstanding puzzles associated with observed low and incomplete uptake and high rates of disadoption of SRI in spite of the technology’s manifest superiority.

Suggested Citation

  • Barrett, Christopher B. & Moser, Christine M. & Barison, Joeli & McHugh, Oloro V., 2003. "Better Technology, Better Plots or Better Farmers? Identifying Changes In Productivity and Risk Among Malagasy Rice Farmers," Working Papers 127212, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:127212
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Christine M. Moser & Christopher B. Barrett, 2006. "The complex dynamics of smallholder technology adoption: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(3), pages 373-388, November.
    2. Stoop, Willem A. & Uphoff, Norman & Kassam, Amir, 2002. "A review of agricultural research issues raised by the system of rice intensification (SRI) from Madagascar: opportunities for improving farming systems for resource-poor farmers," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 249-274, March.
    3. Foster, Andrew D & Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Learning by Doing and Learning from Others: Human Capital and Technical Change in Agriculture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1176-1209, December.
    4. Lisa A. Cameron, 1999. "The Importance of Learning in the Adoption of High-Yielding Variety Seeds," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(1), pages 83-94.
    5. Moser, Christine M. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2003. "The disappointing adoption dynamics of a yield-increasing, low external-input technology: the case of SRI in Madagascar," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 1085-1100, June.
    6. Just, Richard E. & Pope, Rulon D., 1978. "Stochastic specification of production functions and economic implications," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 67-86, February.
    7. Feder, Gershon & Just, Richard E & Zilberman, David, 1985. "Adoption of Agricultural Innovations in Developing Countries: A Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 255-298, January.
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