Information, market creation and agricultural growth

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: Business School

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed renewed appreciation that agriculture could play a significant role in the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals. In this context, the role of information dissemination through information and communication technology (ICT) in improving rural welfare is highlighted. However, some fear that with ICT technological disparity will arise, and existing socio-economic inequality and poverty will be further exacerbated.
This study will use randomized experiment and surveys before and after the experiment to investigate the impact of ICT on rural welfare in the Indian state of Karnataka. The randomized experiment (or the action research) proposed here involves facilitating information access on key agriculture related services to households in some villages and not in others.
Combining data from both surveys and the experiment, we investigate the impact of information dissemination on agricultural practices, household incomes, social network, risk coping mechanism and caste disparity.

Planned Impact

India's development priorities include poverty reduction and faster, more inclusive growth. Due to widespread rural poverty and high population growth, India must increase agricultural productivity. In the current debate among academics and policy makers on inclusive growth in India, there is a growing concern that poor people, especially in rural India, have benefited very little from rapid economic growth. Asymmetric information coupled with poor skill sets are considered the root cause, and inability of the rural poor to take advantage of opportunities in the markets, created by technology advancement and policy changes. Addressing the problem of asymmetric information is expected to empower the rural poor to take advantage of the market opportunities as well as overcome the skill set deficits in the long run, and therefore, enhances inclusiveness. The action research proposed in the current project using experimental methodology does precisely this - benefits the rural community directly, where e-governance facilities installed and access to range of information provided. The information will include both public and private services in the areas of education, health, agriculture, employment, financial inclusion, etc. These services will directly cater to the needs of the village inhabitants, local government as well as business. In recent years, there is a proliferation of government welfare programs for the poor to be delivered in the rural areas. But several of these services have not been delivered due to weak last mile organisational linkage. Proper design and use of the telecentres can help overcome this difficulty to a large extent and effectively reach the rural poor. With public access to information on these services, there can be some scope for transparency and lower corruption. Apart from directly benefiting the rural people, this project will inform the ongoing debate on some of the concerns raised.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our main result is that access to better farming information mitigates yield through adoption of cost-effective and improved farming practices. Specifically, we have four sets of key results that stand out.. First, access to hotline mitigates overall yield by 27-31 percentage points for treated farmers relative to the control group. While redgram yields were 20-29 percentage points higher among treated farmers, hotline had no significant impact on other crops. Though the overall costs of cultivation for redgram increased by 39 percent from the intervention, profits for the treatment farmer was greater by 70 percent relative to the control group.
Secondly, we show that information provision, while obscuring social identity, mitigates crop yields among marginalized caste. Farmers belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe, who had access to information on hotline, recover redgram yields by 121 percentage points, relative to other castes. It is remarkable that this effect is not only greater than the overall impact of the intervention but also highly significant. The result can plausibly be explained by the unique nature of the experiment where information is provided eclipsing the social identity of the caller. That is, within societies where discrimination is widely practiced, obscuring social identity in information provision can translate to better economic outcomes.
Thirdly, prior farming experience shows no (or negative) impact of access to information on crop yields. However, this result contradicts the standard intuition that experience ensures effective technology use, it is consistent with the predictions in Hanna et al. (2014). Limits to the role of experience can be explained plausibly by occurrences of new pests and diseases, development of resistance by old pests and changes in the chemical composition of soil.
Fourthly, access to better farming information mitigates crop losses only for the less educated relative to "better educated" farmers. By being better educated helps, one can comprehend the information better. However, in the aftermath of any major shock, better educated farmers who have greater employment opportunities migrate to cities in search of transitory employments to mitigate the short-fall in income.
Exploitation Route The Karnataka State Agricultural Minister visited one of our treatment villages recently. In his media coverage he mentioned the project and emphasis the importance of supporting farmers through knowledge sharing. Hopefully our efforts in this project will be extended beyond the project site.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

 
Description Despite generating only 15% of the world's agricultural value added, Indian agriculture provides jobs to 263 million rural people and hosts 375 million rural poor. Farmers in developing countries face a variety of challenges which prevent them from achieving the greatest possible crop yields. Since the year 2013, we have been developing research programme, aimed at providing rigorous empirical evidence on what motivates farmers to adopt modern agricultural practices to enhance productivity, and how the information provided can influence their behavioural biases (limiting profitable investments), seen as one of the main causes of sub-optimal agricultural practices. The partnerships fostered within the project between researchers and policy-makers involved several rounds of intervention using randomised control trials that combines rigorous research with impact at several levels of the collaborations. The primary beneficiary is the farmer with increased crop yields. The partnership resulted in skills exchange and capacity building among the multidisciplinary field team that is bridging the gap between the ivory tower and ground reality with feedbacks in either direction. The program was also able to influence the government policy from provisioning of only subsidised inputs to a more comprehensive supporting role to enhance crop productivity.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Improving delivery of extension services to enhance agricultural productivity in developing countries
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Despite generating only 15% of the world's agricultural value added, Indian agriculture provides jobs to 263 million rural people and hosts 375 million rural poor. Farmers in developing countries face a variety of challenges which prevent them from achieving the greatest possible crop yields. Since the year 2013, we have been developing research programme, aimed at providing rigorous empirical evidence on what motivates farmers to adopt modern agricultural practices to enhance productivity, and how the information provided can influence their behavioural biases (limiting profitable investments), seen as one of the main causes of sub-optimal agricultural practices. The partnerships fostered within the project between researchers and policy-makers involved several rounds of intervention using randomised control trials that combines rigorous research with impact at several levels of the collaborations. The primary beneficiary is the farmer with increased crop yields. The partnership resulted in skills exchange and capacity building among the multidisciplinary field team that is bridging the gap between the ivory tower and ground reality with feedbacks in either direction. The program was also able to influence the government policy from provisioning of only subsidised inputs to a more comprehensive supporting role to enhance crop productivity.
 
Description • Adam Smith Foundation Seedcorn Funding 2013-14
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Glasgow 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2013 
End 07/2014
 
Description • The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) funding under INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMME Bilateral - Travel from Scotland.
Amount £1,900 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2012 
End 07/2012
 
Title Panel data using farm surveys 
Description Summary of the data collected. Please refer to the questionnaires and variable definition. Section I - Family details: Farmer and his family details - Occupation and type of job Section II - Household details: Household particulars - Socio Economic Status of farmer Section III - livestock: Livestocks owned Section IV - Field crops: Field crops- kharif - variety, Area, production and season Field crops- Rabi- variety, Area, production and season Field crops- Summer - variety, Area, production and season Section V - Land and machinery Land and machinery - Land owned and cultivated Area (Kharif, rabi and summer) Crop land rented in and rented out details Agricultural machineries Section VI - Social network: Social network Section VII - Land and preparation: Land and preparation - Kharif (2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017) Land and preparation - Rabi (2013, 2014) Land and preparation - Summer(2013, 2014) Land and preparation - Rabi (2016, 2017) Land and preparation - Summer(2016, 2017) Section VIII - Land ownership: Land ownership details 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The data listed above were collected as part of the farm surveys that will be analysed in the next couple of months to document any impact generated by the experimental intervention. 
 
Description New project partner 
Organisation Institute for Social and Economic Change
PI Contribution We designed the survey and provided the RCT methodology to carry out the experiments.
Collaborator Contribution Implementation of the experiment and the surveys.
Impact Survey and papers are in progress.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Farmers training 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A training programme was organised for the control farmers in Siruguppa on March 13. All three hundred control farmers were invited. This was held at the Agricultural Research Station and 87 farmers attended the event. A wide range of speakers came to talk to the farmers about a broad range of subjects. Speakers included Mr. Gorebal SM (Chief Manager of Syndicate Bank Bellary), Mr. Balekayi (Director of SYND rural self-employed institute), Mr. B K Obanna (AD, Dept. Hort.), Dr. T N Shashidar (Assistant Professor of Animal husbandry, UASR), Dr. Sushila (Assistant Professor of Entomology, UASR), Dr. Savitha (Assistant Professor of Pathology, UASR), and Dr. Basavannappa. The speakers cover topics like government program for minor millets (INSIMP), best management practices for millets, various schemes available for rural people from Syndicate Bank, goat rearing, and bee keeping. The training was well received by the farmers and they were able to ask the speakers many questions to clarify any queries that they had.
The first training programme was organised for the treatment farmers in Gubbi on March 20. A total of 150 farmers from three GPs (Kondli, Hosakere, Nallur) were invited. The program was held at the Taluka Panchayat office and 30 farmers attended the event. Speakers included Dr. Sujith (Head, Konehalli KVK) and Dr. Prakash (Assistant Professor of Entomology, UASB). They took questions from farmers on problems of redgram loss and areca nut pests. Dr. Sujith tried to promote two new varieties of ragi and paddy - ML 365 and aerobic paddy respectively. He discussed benefits and package of practices for these varieties. Mr. Srinivas was there and he asked farmers opinion about e-SAP tab service.


The farmers welcomed more information on several crops including plantation crops like coconut and banana and requested more such workshop to interact and discuss with experts from the local agricultural universities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.gla.ac.uk/research/infocus/projects/headline_281496_en.html
 
Description Policy workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the research results from the project. It was attended by 50 participants that included national and local policy makers and scientists. The Keynote Address was given by Prof. Ramesh Chand, Hon'ble Member, NITI Aayog ( The highest policy making body in India). Preliminary results were discussed extensively and suggestions were made on the way forward to examine the impact of the project. A follow-up workshop was suggested once the data from the projects were fully analysed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017