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Asymmetric Information and Middleman Margins: An Experiment with Indian Potato Farmers

Author

Listed:
  • Sandip Mitra

    (Sampling and Ocial Statistics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute)

  • Dilip Mookherjee

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Maximo Torero

    (International Food Policy Research Institute)

  • Sujata Visaria

    (Department of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

In the Indian state of West Bengal, potato farmers sell to local middlemen because they lack direct access to wholesale markets. In high-frequency farmer marketing surveys we find that farmers are poorly informed about wholesale and retail prices, and there is a large gap between wholesale and farmgate prices. To test alternative models of farmer-middlemen trades, we conduct a field experiment providing farmers in randomly chosen villages with market price information. Information provision had negligible average effects on farmgate sales and revenues, but increased pass-through from wholesale to farmgate prices. The results are inconsistent with models of risk-sharing via contracts between middlemen and farmers. They are consistent with a model of ex post bargaining and sequential price competition between a cartel of village middlemen and a cartel of external middlemen.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandip Mitra & Dilip Mookherjee & Maximo Torero & Sujata Visaria, 2015. "Asymmetric Information and Middleman Margins: An Experiment with Indian Potato Farmers," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2015-29, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Aug 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:hku:wpaper:201529
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wouter Zant, 2018. "Mobile Phones and Mozambique Farmers: Less Asymmetric Information and More Trader Competition?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-055/V, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Oct 2019.
    2. Pierluigi Montalbano & Rebecca Pietrelli & Luca Salvatici, 2017. "Market chain participation and food security: the case of the Ugandan maize farmers," Working Papers 2/17, Sapienza University of Rome, DISS.
    3. Meilin Ma & Richard J. Sexton, 2021. "Modern agricultural value chains and the future of smallholder farming systems," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 52(4), pages 591-606, July.
    4. Ku, Hyejin, 2019. "The effect of wage subsidies on piece rate workers: Evidence from the Penny Per Pound program in Florida," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 122-134.
    5. Maitra, Pushkar & Mitra, Sandip & Mookherjee, Dilip & Visaria, Sujata, 2020. "Decentralized Targeting of Agricultural Credit Programs: Private versus Political Intermediaries," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-94, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. Camacho, Adriana & Conover, Emily, 2019. "The impact of receiving SMS price and weather information on small scale farmers in Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.
    7. M. Shahe Emran & Dilip Mookherjee & Forhad Shilpi & M. Helal Uddin, 2021. "Credit Rationing and Pass-Through in Supply Chains: Theory and Evidence from Bangladesh," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 202-236, July.
    8. Lauren Falcao Bergquist & Michael Dinerstein, 2020. "Competition and Entry in Agricultural Markets: Experimental Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(12), pages 3705-3747, December.
    9. Macchiavello, Rocco & Miquel-Florensa, Josepa, 2017. "Vertical Integration and Relational Contracts: Evidence from the Costa Rica Coffee Chain," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 321, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    10. Ajay Chhibber, 2021. "Farm Protests in India: A new menu needed," Working Papers 2021-01, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    11. Gashaw Tadesse Abate & Tanguy Bernard & Alan de Brauw & Nicholas Minot, 2018. "The impact of the use of new technologies on farmers’ wheat yield in Ethiopia: evidence from a randomized control trial," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 49(4), pages 409-421, July.
    12. Maitra, Pushkar & Mitra, Sandip & Mookherjee, Dilip & Motta, Alberto & Visaria, Sujata, 2017. "Financing smallholder agriculture: An experiment with agent-intermediated microloans in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 306-337.
    13. Jonas Hjort & Vinayak Iyer & Golvine De Rochambeau, 2020. "Informational Barriers to Market Access: Experimental Evidence from Liberian Firms," Sciences Po publications 2020-09, Sciences Po.
    14. Jonas Hjort & Vinayak Iyer & Golvine de Rochambeau, 2020. "Informational Barriers to Market Access: Experimental Evidence from Liberian Firms," Working Papers hal-03389180, HAL.
    15. Hailemariam Ayalew & Dagim G. Belay, 2020. "The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange and Spatial Price Dispersion: Disentangling Warehouse and Price Information effects," IFRO Working Paper 2020/01, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
    16. Uwe Deichmann & Aparajita Goyal & Deepak Mishra, 2016. "Will digital technologies transform agriculture in developing countries?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(S1), pages 21-33, November.
    17. Ma, Wanglin & Zheng, Hongyun, 2021. "Impacts of Smartphone Use on Agrochemical Use Among Wheat Farmers in China: A Heterogeneous Analysis," 2021 Conference, August 17-31, 2021, Virtual 314991, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    18. Chen-Nan Liao & Ying-Ju Chen & Christopher S. Tang, 2019. "Information Provision Policies for Improving Farmer Welfare in Developing Countries: Heterogeneous Farmers and Market Selection," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 21(2), pages 254-270, May.
    19. Kotowski, Maciej H. & Leister, C. Matthew, 2018. "Trading Networks and Equilibrium Intermediation," Working Paper Series rwp18-001, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    20. Pushkar Maitra & Sandip Mitra & Dilip Mookherjee & Sujata Visaria, 2020. "Decentralized Targeting of Agricultural Credit Programs: Private versus Political Intermediaries," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2020-70, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Jan 2020.
    21. Nuthalapati, Chandra S.R. & Sutradhar, Rajib & Reardon, Thomas & Qaim, Matin, 2020. "Supermarket procurement and farmgate prices in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    22. Jeehye Kim & Parmesh Shah & Joanne Catherine Gaskell & Ashesh Prasann & Akanksha Luthra, 2020. "Scaling Up Disruptive Agricultural Technologies in Africa," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 33961.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    agricultural finance; agent based lending; group lending; selection; repayment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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