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The Effects of Decentralized and Video-based Extension on the Adoption of Integrated Soil Fertility Management – Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia -- by Denise Hörner, Adrien Bouguen, Markus Frölich, Meike Wollni

The slow adoption of new agricultural technologies is an important factor in explaining persistent productivity deficits among smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Farmers delay in particular the uptake of technology packages. Since knowledge constraints are an important barrier to adoption, effective extension approaches are key. In recent decades, extension systems in many SSA countries have moved towards decentralized “bottom-up” models involving farmers as active stakeholders.
In this study we assess the effects of a decentralized extension program and an additional video intervention on the adoption of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) among 2,382 farmers in Ethiopia using a randomized controlled trial. ISFM should enhance soil fertility and productivity by combining organic and inorganic soil amendments. We find that both extension-only and extension combined with video increase ISFM adoption and knowledge. We further find evidence for increased adoption of ISFM practices among farmers in treatment communities that do not actively participate in the extension activities. The additional video intervention shows a significant complementary effect for these non-actively involved farmers, in particular regarding the combined use of the practices on the same plot. A causal mediation analysis reveals that increases in knowledge explain part of the treatment effects on adoption.
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