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KEN -20 -1502

    Basic Information

  • Experiment rationale and/or abstract
    PAD operates the MoA-INFO platform in collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture to provide free agricultural recommendations to farmers via SMS.

    Farmers can access information whenever they like by sending the word MENU or ORODHA to access a full list of topics. In addition, farmers have an opportunity to opt into weekly “cropping series” which offer advice on crop management practices (from land preparation to harvesting and storage) throughout the season. While all the content in the cropping series is available on the menu for farmers to access anytime, the vast majority of engagement with the platform comes from farmers who opt into the weekly cropping series advisory.

    We evaluated the effects of the MoA-INFO service by randomizing cropping series invitation messages. While we previously found that the MoA-INFO platform could increase farmer knowledge about topics such as Fall Armyworm (FAW), we had not measured the effects on behavior changes. During the long rains season in 2020, we selected 7 cropping series (CS) which pertain to seed and fertilizer choice, and post-harvest storage, and we randomized invitations on those 7 CS messages. In September 2020, we collected information on adoption of practices and yield via a phone survey. Complementary information on platform engagement were taken from the MoA-INFO platform.

    The trial sample consisted of all 11,336 MoA-INFO farmers from early planting constituencies who opted into both maize and bean cropping series. The sample was stratified at the ward level and randomized at the individual level, because farming recommendations vary by the predominant agricultural ecological zone (AEZ) at the ward level. Out of the 11,336 farmers in the sample, 1,417 (12.5%) were randomized not to receive the selected cropping series messages: maize seed, maize fertilizer, maize topdressing, maize post-harvest storage, bean seed and fertilizers, bean planting, bean post-harvest storage. The remaining 9,919 farmers received the complete cropping series messages (unless they opted out). We conducted a phone survey on a sub-sample of 2,939 farmers to gather information on their farming practices, yield, demographics.
  • Status
  • Start date
    Q1 Jan 2020
  • Experiment Location
  • Partner Organization
    Kenya Ministry of Agriculture
  • Agricultural season
    Long Rains
  • Research Design

  • Experiment type
    Impact Evaluation
  • Sample frame / target population
    MoA-INFO farmers
  • Sample size
  • Outcome type
    Farming practices, Yields, Input adoption, System engagement
  • Method of Measurement
    Phone survey, Platform administrative data
  • Research question(s)/hypotheses
    The goal of this trial was to measure potential effects of MoA-INFO Cropping Series (CS) messages on farmer practices and yields. This is the first trial measuring the effects of the MoA-INFO service on behavior change of its users.
  • Research theme
    Communication technology, SMS, Impact Evaluation, Practice Adoption, User engagement
  • Results

  • Results
    We found that adopting more recommended practices (measured using an aggregate index of practices) was correlated with higher yield, yet there was no evidence suggesting that receiving text message advice led to statistically significant changes in the adoption of recommended practices or farm outputs (yield and harvest).

    We analyzed results by sub-groups for maize mono-cropping (N=1260), bean mono-cropping (N=381), and maize and bean intercropping (N=1635). We do not detect a significant impact by these three sub-groups because the analysis was underpowered given the observed effect levels and standard errors, yet differences among these groups provide some valuable insights. In the case of beans, treatment impacts on yield and on individual practices are always in the expected (positive) direction. For maize, treatment impacts on practices are sometimes in the expected (positive) direction and sometimes in the opposite (negative) direction, while the impacts on maize yield are consistently (insignificantly) negative. This difference seems to suggest that bean results are somehow more promising than maize results.

    We also explored heterogeneous effects across different subgroups (previous CS opt-ins, superusers, gender, smartphone ownership, location) and found little evidence of such effects.

    These results hint at the robustness of our agronomic content and approach (i.e., advising on a set of good agricultural practices), and highlight the importance of increasing the effectiveness of our information provision.