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Profitability of fertilizer: Experimental evidence from female rice farmers in Mali

  • Beaman, Lori
  • Karlan, Dean S.
  • Thuysbaert, Bram
  • Udry, Christopher

In an experiment providing fertilizer grants to women rice farmers in Mali, we found that women who received fertilizer increased both the quantity of fertilizer they used on their plots and complementary inputs such as herbicides and hired labor. This highlights that farmers respond to an increase in availability of one input by re-optimizing other inputs, making it challenging to isolate the returns to any one input. We also found that while the increase in inputs led to a significantly higher level of output, we find no evidence that profits increased. Our results suggest that fertilizer's impact on profits is small compared to other sources of variation. This may make it difficult for farmers to observe the impact of fertilizer on their plots, and accordingly this affects their ability to learn about the returns to fertilizer and could affect their decision to adopt even in the absence of credit constraints.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9340.

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Date of creation: Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9340
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  1. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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 482-88, May.
  3. Tavneet Suri, 2011. "Selection and Comparative Advantage in Technology Adoption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(1), pages 159-209, 01.
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