IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economics of Information in Developing Country Agriculture: Evidence from South India


  • Babu, Suresh Chandra


Public agricultural extension systems often fail due to inadequate consultation of farmers about their information needs and poor understanding of their information search strategies. In discussing and implementing extension programs and advisory services, the following questions need to be addressed: What information do the farmers need? How and where do they search for information? What factors determine their search behavior? How much are they willing to pay for their information? While the first two sets of questions are addressed fairly well in the literature, the latter two have not yet been attempted in the context of developing countries. Using a case study of two districts in South India, we examine farmer information needs and their information search behavior, factors affecting their search behavior, and their willingness to pay for information. Cluster analysis on access, frequency and use of information sources identified four farmer information search behaviors – high, medium, semi-medium and low. The groups differed significantly by post-high school studies, household economic status, cultivated land area, agricultural income, and membership to a farmer-based organization (FBO) and a Primary Agricultural Cooperative Bank (PACB). We use these four information search behaviors to examine differences in information needs, sources used and preferred sources. The important information needs related to rice included pest and disease management, pesticide and fertilizer application, seed variety, seed treatment. Rice production practices and credit information was more important for the low search group. Private input dealers and the state department of agricultural extension staff were the main information sources, though use of these two sources decreased with greater information searching. High and medium searchers used a greater number of sources, which also included print media and TV. The major constraints to information access, common to all search groups, were poor reliability and timeliness. The preferred medium of information was interpersonal contacts followed by information via mobile phones, where a helpline or voice messages was preferred over SMS. Through a contingent valuation technique it was found that farmers’ willingness to pay for voice-based mobile phone messages was low. The results show that the delivery of agricultural information, tailored to the different information search behaviors of farmers, is important to consider for extension programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Babu, Suresh Chandra, 2012. "Economics of Information in Developing Country Agriculture: Evidence from South India," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126225, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae12:126225

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sam Oeurn Ke & Suresh Chandra Babu, 2018. "Agricultural Extension in Cambodia: An Assessment and Options for Reform," Working Papers id:12484, eSocialSciences.

    More about this item


    Information Economics; Farmer's Information needs; Search Behavior; Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services; India; Asia.; International Development;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:iaae12:126225. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.