The impact of the use of new technologies on farmers’ wheat yield in Ethiopia
This conference paper (PDF) by IFPRI examines the impact of the Wheat Initiative technology package promoted by the research and extension systems in Ethiopia on wheat yield. The package includes certified wheat seed, a lower seeding density, row planting, fertilizer recommendations, and marketing assistance. A sample of 490 wheat growers was randomly assigned to one of three groups: the full-package intervention group, a marketing-assistance-only group, and a control group. The results suggest that the full-package farmers had around 14% higher yields. Implementation of the Wheat Initiative was successful in terms of making certified seed and fertilizer accessible and increasing uptake, though only 61 percent of the intervention group adopted row planting and few farmers received marketing assistance. So whereas changing material input rates when they are made available is not that difficult, changing farmer behavior takes more time. From a design perspective, the drawback of using a “package” is that we do not know which components of the package contributed most to the yield increase, and which components could have been either minimized or dropped altogether because they did not contribute to the goal. Additive designs can help shed light on how important different pieces of such packages are to attaining goals. Another important consideration when planning package interventions is the change needed in labor allocations when adopting a new technology or technique. From a policy perspective, the results show that intensification through the promotion of such packages is quite possible, but expectations about increases in productivity that would be observed will necessarily lag substantially behind those of yield trials.