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Improving Smallholder Agriculture via Video-Based Group Extension (WP-23-06)

Tushi Baul, Dean Karlan, Kentaro Toyama, and Kathryn Vasilaky

Providing agricultural advice at scale poses operational challenges. Technology may help if repeating content reinforces learning for recipients and thus improves adoption, but risks reducing efficacy given limited customization and human interaction. The researchers tested videos shared with female farmers in India as a supplement to standard human-provided extension services promoting a climate-smart practice, System Rice Intensification. The average treatment effects are large but imprecise because of non-normally distributed outcomes, specifically fat right tails. Weighted quantile regressions show that the imprecision in estimating an average treatment effect comes from farmers with output or yields in the upper quantiles. Both quantile regressions of the 25% and 50% quantiles and a Bayesian hierarchical model (robust to several priors) reveal positive treatment effects, and two subtreatments, one that reinforces information on labor costs from adoption and a second that presents role models to motivate adoption, lead to even higher estimated treatment effects on output.

Tushi Baul, Insights Lead, Playgig

Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics and Finance, Frederic Esser Nemmers Chair, and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

Kentaro Toyama, W K Kellogg Professor of Community Information and Professor of Information, University of Michigan

Kathryn Vasilaky, Assistant Professor of Economics, Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly

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