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Nudging Farmers to Utilize Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya

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  • Duflo, Esther
  • Kremer, Michael
  • Robinson, Jonathan

Abstract

While many developing-country policymakers see heavy fertilizer subsidies as critical to raising agricultural productivity, most economists see them as distortionary, regressive, environmentally unsound, and argue that they result in politicized, inefficient distribution of fertilizer supply. We model farmers as facing small fixed costs of purchasing fertilizer, and assume some are stochastically present-biased and not fully sophisticated about this bias. Even when relatively patient, such farmers may procrastinate, postponing fertilizer purchases until later periods, when they may be too impatient to purchase fertilizer. Consistent with the model, many farmers in Western Kenya fail to take advantage of apparently profitable fertilizer investments, but they do invest in response to small, time-limited discounts on the cost of acquiring fertilizer (free delivery) just after harvest. Later discounts have a smaller impact, and when given a choice of price schedules, many farmers choose schedules that induce advance purchase. Calibration suggests such small, time-limited discounts yield higher welfare than either laissez faire or heavy subsidies by helping present-biased farmers commit to fertilizer use without inducing those with standard preferences to substantially overuse fertilizer.

Suggested Citation

  • Duflo, Esther & Kremer, Michael & Robinson, Jonathan, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Utilize Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," CEPR Discussion Papers 7402, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7402
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Projection Bias in Predicting Future Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1209-1248.
    2. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2008. "How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 482-488, May.
    3. Gulati, Ashok & Narayanan, Sudha, 2003. "The Subsidy Syndrome in Indian Agriculture," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195662061.
    4. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2005. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000643, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Ellis,Frank, 1992. "Agricultural Policies in Developing Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521395847.
    6. Michael Morris & Valerie A. Kelly & Ron J. Kopicki & Derek Byerlee, 2007. "Fertilizer Use in African Agriculture : Lessons Learned and Good Practice Guidelines," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6650, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guerzoni, Marco & Jordan, Alexander, 2016. "“Cursed is the ground because of you”: Religion, Ethnicity, and the Adoption of Fertilizers in Rural Ethiopia," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201605, University of Turin.
    2. Wagner, Rodrigo & Zahler, Andrés, 2015. "New exports from emerging markets: Do followers benefit from pioneers?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 203-223.
    3. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:187-208 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Longer-Term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 4754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Pascaline Dupas, 2014. "Short‐Run Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence From a Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 197-228, January.
    6. Murat Arsel & Bengi Akbulut & Fikret Adaman & Yahya M. Madra, 2015. "Forum 2015," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(4), pages 733-761, July.
    7. Thompson, William W. & Janzen, Sarah A. & Magnan, Nicholas P. & Sharma, Sudhindra, 2015. "Social Drivers of Aspirations Formation and Failure in Rural Nepal," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205757, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    8. Bengi Akbulut & Fikret Adaman & Yahya M. Madra, 2015. "The Decimation and Displacement of Development Economics," Working Papers 2015/01, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    9. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: What Do We Know About Them?," IZA Discussion Papers 5255, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Samuel Ferey & Yannick Gabuthy & Nicolas Jacquemet, 2013. "L'apport de l'économie expérimentale dans l'élaboration des politiques publiques," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00879205, HAL.
    11. Bisimungu, Emmanuel & Kabunga, Nassul, 2016. "A Latent Class Analysis of agricultural technology adoption behavior in Uganda: Implications for Optimal Targeting," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 249347, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    hyperbolic discounting; technology adoption;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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