Reconciling yield gains in agronomic trials with returns under African smallholder conditions

Resource Type
Dataset : administrative records data, survey data
  • Laajaj, Rachid (Universidad de los Andes)
  • Macours, Karen (Paris School of Economics)
  • Masso, Cargele (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture)
  • Thuita, Moses (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture)
  • Vanlauwe, Bernard (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • DFID-ESRC Growth Research Program
    • Award Number: JES-1362222
  • World Bank and Standing Panel for Impact Assessment
    • Award Number: SIAC 1
  • French National Research Agency (ANR)
    • Award Number: ANR-17-EURE-0001
  • INRA
Free Keywords
Yield Gain; Smallholder Farmer; Agriculture; Kenya; Agronomic trial; Africa
  • Abstract

    Increased adoption of improved agricultural technologies is considered an essential step to address global poverty and hunger, and agronomic trials suggest intensification in developing countries could result in large yield gains. Yet the promise of new technologies does not always carry over from trials to real-life conditions, and diffusion of many technologies remains limited. We show how parcel and farmer selection, together with behavioural responses in agronomic trials, can explain why yield gain estimates from trials may differ from the yield gains of smallholders using the same inputs under real-life conditions. We provide quantitative evidence by exploiting variation in farmer selection and detailed data collection from research trials in Western Kenya on which large yield increments were observed from improved input packages for maize and soybean. After adjusting for selection, behavioural responses, and other corrections, estimates of yield gains fall to being not significantly different from zero for the input package tested on one of the crops (soybean), but remain high for the other (maize). These results suggest that testing new agricultural technologies in real-world conditions and without researcher interference early in the agricultural research and development process might help with identifying which innovations are more likely to be taken up at scale.
Temporal Coverage
  • 2012-01-01 / 2015-12-31
    Time Period: Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2012--Thu Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2015
  • 2012-01-01 / 2015-12-31
    Collection Date(s): Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2012--Thu Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2015
Geographic Coverage
  • Siaya
  • Africa
  • Kenya
Sampled Universe
Households in rural areas in Siaya, Western Kenya. Mix of randomly selected representativ households and households selected by the community to participate in the agronomic trials. .
This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
  • Is version of
    DOI: 10.3886/E120430
  • Laajaj, Rachid, Karen Macours, Cargele Masso, Thuita Moses, and Bernard Vanlauwe. “Reconciling Yield Gains in Agronomic Trials with Returns under African Smallholder.” Scientific Reports, n.d.

Update Metadata: 2020-07-29 | Issue Number: 1 | Registration Date: 2020-07-29