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Fake News: Debunking beliefs about Fertilizer Quality in Tanzania

Online

16 Jun Sunset Part of International Development and Emerging Economies Seminars

Abstract 

Fertiliser use remains below recommended rates in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to poor crop yields and poverty. Producers voice suspicion that available fertiliser is often adulterated, but these concerns are (mostly) not backed by reliable evidence. In a prior project with Anna Fairbairn, Hope Michelson, Brenna Ellison and Victor Manyong, summarised on the VoxDev blog, we visited all fertiliser sellers in Morogoro Region in Tanzania, tested their fertiliser, and found the urea, the most common fertiliser, to be of good quality. However, the beliefs of farmers in the region are pessimistic, likely contributing to lowered demand.

For this project, I am collaborating with Hope Michelson at the University of Illinois, and Christopher Magomba at Sokoine University of Agriculture to evaluate the effects of an information intervention on the supply and demand decisions of agro-dealers and farmers. We use the random assignment of all 100 markets (in the same Morogoro Region) and nearby villages into treatment and control groups. In advance of the long-rains agricultural season of 2019, we distribute information signs and pamphlets in the treatment markets (as well as inform the agro-dealers), and hold village meetings in the treatment villages. We collected baseline data among both agro-dealers and farmers, and are scheduled to collect endline data later this summer. We also monitor fertiliser sales and prices throughout the agricultural season. A unique feature of our data collection exercise is the inclusion of all agro-dealer shops in the region – allowing us to capture entry and exit into the market.

This research is sponsored by a grant from DFID's Private Enterprise in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) research initiative.

Presenter: 

Annemie Maertens


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