Agricultural production is straining natural resources, suggesting that productivity improvements are required to feed a growing population. Despite the growing attention to technology adoption in economics, knowledge gaps remain regarding why some valuable technologies are rapidly adopted, while others are not. We have a variety of projects that seek to measure the impact of technology adoption as well as understand why some households do not to adopt.
While crop improvement programs have in the past and still are investing vast resources to develop the Tanzanian groundnut sector, the adoption of improved varieties by farmers remain low. By drawing on survey data from five agro-ecological zones across Tanzania, we argue that lack of awareness and attractiveness remain the biggest barriers to adoption of improved groundnut varieties by farmers. Focusing on accessibility and affordability of improved groundnut varieties are important but insufficient drivers of adoption. Equally essential for farmers are awareness about and attractiveness of improved groundnut varieties. Reforms of the Tanzania groundnut improvement program essentially requires researchers to reframe the conditions for adoption. We derive important lessons for crop improvement programs. Collaborators: K. Mausch (ICRAF), M. Hauser (ICRISAT), and C. Meisch (UArizona).
This work contributes to our understanding of agricultural technology adoption by showing that a focus on yield gains may, in some contexts, be misguided. We study a technology in Ethiopia that has no impact on yields, but that has nonetheless been widely adopted. We analyze the impact of improved chickpea adoption on welfare in Ethiopia using three rounds of panel data. Our results suggest economic measures of returns may be more relevant than increases in yields in explaining technology adoption decisions. Learn more by reading our award winning paper in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and our paper in Food Policy. Collaborators: E. Tjernström (Sydney), K. Maush (ICRAF), and S. Verkaart (ICRISAT).
Increasing population pressure in many parts of Africa is having a large impact on deforestation and, by extension, human health. As forested landscape is reduced, the cost of procuring energy for cooking increases. As the price of energy inputs rise, the ability of households to incorporate healthy cooking habits falls. Households are less likely to boil water and they refrain from preparing slow-cooking foods, like legumes, and instead focus on quick cooking foods, such as maize meal. In order to investigate the link between rising fuel costs and poor nutritional outcomes we conduct a solar stove field experiment in Zambia. Collaborators: L. McCann (UArizona), J. Raneri (ACIAR), and N. Estrada-Carmona (Bioversity).