Poster Paper: Identifying Smallholder Farm Profit Drivers: A Case Study from Kenya

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Kim Siegal and Evelyne Nyokangi, One Acre Fund

The majority of poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa is still concentrated among rural small-holder farmers, as local crop yields have not kept pace with population growth. Improvements in agricultural technology (such as fertilizer, improved seed and training in modern farming techniques) have not sufficiently reached rural communities due to lack of infrastructure, lack of subsidies and individual cash constraints.

A number of government programs as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have emerged to address this yield gap (the difference between crop yields and crop potential) and its attendant poverty through seed and fertilizer subsidies and agriculture extension training. One Acre Fund, a large NGO, addresses many of barriers to improved yields by providing a holistic package of quality-assured seed and fertilizer, on credit, as well as training to more than 500,000 farmers across six African countries. Impact evaluations of the program, including two randomized control trials, have shown a positive impact of program participation on farmers’ harvests and profits. However, less is known about which particular aspects of the program are the largest drivers of that impact.

In this paper, the authors examined household data on farming inputs and practices as well as physical harvest weight data from those same farmers, drawing on a sample of over 2,000 program participants. Using OLS regression models, the authors identified the practices which were both the most predictive of improved yields and also most under-utilized. The authors recommended a shift in focus to specific training practices, and greater emphasis on compost and pesticide use, and the organization shifted the subsequent year’s training and field staff incentive structure accordingly. This paper and subsequent program change provide a strong case study in identification of specific impact drivers and the influence of this analysis on program change.