Technology Adoption

Too many bad seeds

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1251-1252
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6357.1251-g

Low usage rates of modern agricultural technology in sub-Saharan Africa may reflect poor quality of the tools, which provide little incentive for farmers to adopt them. Studying maize cultivation in Uganda, Bold et al. found through laboratory testing that 30% of nutrient was missing in common urea fertilizer and that common hybrid seed contained less than 50% authentic seeds. Based on agricultural field trials, those low-quality inputs provided a net return on investment close to 0%, compared with 80% for higher-quality inputs. But surveys suggest that farmers are also unable to adequately discern higher-quality inputs, limiting incentives for fertilizer and seed sellers to invest in providing such products.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjx009 (2017).

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