Knowledge for Development

Behavioral responses and the impact of new agricultural technologies: Evidence from a double-blind field experiment in Tanzania

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Date: 28/07/2014

Introduction:

The results of a recent paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics comparing Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) conducted with cowpea farmers in Tanzania, using an open RCT with a double-blind RCT ( used in medical science) were discussed by Venezuelan journalist and blogger Francisco Toro. The results were surprising and put into question the standard methodology that agricultural scientists commonly use to assess the success of the introduction of new agricultural technologies. Toro sums it up: 'In the open RCT, Tanzanian cowpea farmers who knew they were getting improved seed easily outperformed farmers who knew they were getting traditional seed. But in the double-blind study, farmers who weren’t told whether the seed they got was improved or not performed just as well whether that the seed they received was improved or traditional. In fact, farmers who used traditional seed without knowing it did just as well as farmers who used improved seed, whether they knew it or not. Only farmers who knew the seed they were given wasn’t improved lagged behind in productivity.'   

(Francisco Toro's blog, 09/04/2014)

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