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Selective Attention and Information Loss in the Lab-to-Farm Knowledge Chain: The Case of Malawian Agricultural Extension Programs

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Abstract

A multitude of approaches and modalities are available for delivering useful information to rural communities. However, evidence regarding the information efficiency of these modalities is limited, as is evidence identifying the mechanisms of potential information loss in the agricultural extension system. In this paper, we assess information efficiency along the knowledge transmission chain from researchers to agricultural extension agents (EAs) to lead farmers (LFs) to other farmers. By asking the same set of questions about a fairly well known technology, pit planting, we construct a measure of knowledge at each node of the knowledge transmission chain. Evidence shows that the majority of information loss happens at the researcher-to-EA link and the EA-to-LF link, and that the loss is potentially caused by teaching failures or by selective attention and learning among both the EAs and the LFs concerning all important details of the technology. Results highlight the need for greater emphasis during training and learning on key dimensions of technology packages that are commonly ignored. Acknowledgement :

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  • Ragasa, C., 2018. "Selective Attention and Information Loss in the Lab-to-Farm Knowledge Chain: The Case of Malawian Agricultural Extension Programs," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277472, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae18:277472
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.277472
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    1. Joanna Chilemba & Catherine Ragasa, 2020. "The Impact on Farmer Incomes of a Nationwide Scaling Up of the Farmer Business School Program: Lessons and Insights from Central Malawi," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 32(4), pages 906-938, September.
    2. Ragasa, Catherine, 2020. "Effectiveness of the lead farmer approach in agricultural extension service provision: Nationally representative panel data analysis in Malawi," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C).
    3. Kazushi Takahashi & Rie Muraoka & Keijiro Otsuka, 2020. "Technology adoption, impact, and extension in developing countries’ agriculture: A review of the recent literature," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 51(1), pages 31-45, January.
    4. Denise Hörner & Adrien Bouguen & Markus Frölich & Meike Wollni, 2019. "The Effects of Decentralized and Video-based Extension on the Adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management – Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia," NBER Working Papers 26052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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