Learning-by-doing and learning-from-others: evidence from agronomical trials in Kenya

This research analyzes the dynamic processes underlying farmers’ learning about heterogeneous returns to new inputs. A RCT was designed to provide an exogenous increase in the farmers’ information on input quality and suitability through agronomical trials on their own farm. We study the dynamic impacts of farmers’ experimentation with multiple products over three seasons and test whether this leads to an increase in the use of high quality and suitable inputs and yields. Preliminary results show that farmers’ learning is slow but matches well the agronomic findings of the trials. After several seasons many identify which inputs worked best and increase the demand for those specific inputs. The increased willingness to purchase the inputs is however only partially translated into purchase, suggesting important remaining constraints on the supply side. Evidence further suggests that farmers participating in the trial are learning from each other, but learning by non-participating neighboring farmers appears more limited. 

Laajaj, R. andMacours, K. "Learning-by-doing and learning-from-others: evidence from agronomical trials in Kenya" Policy brief Ferdi B156, septembre 2016