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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Lemon technologies and adoption: measurement, theory and evidence from agricultural markets in Uganda
URL https://www.tcd.ie/Economics/assets/pdf/Seminars/20162017/Lemon technologies_2016.pdf
To reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa requires raising productivity in agriculture.
Systematic use of fertilizer and hybrid seed is a pathway to increased productivity, but adoption of these
technologies remains low. We investigate whether the quality of agricultural inputs can help explain low
take-up. Testing modern products purchased in local markets, we find that 30% of nutrient is missing in
fertilizer, and hybrid maize seed is estimated to contain less than 50% authentic seeds. We document that
such low quality results in low average returns. If authentic technologies replaced these low-quality
products, however, average returns are high. To rationalize the findings, we calibrate a learning model
using data from our agricultural trials. Because agricultural yields are noisy, farmers’ ability to learn about
quality is limited and this can help explain the low quality equilibrium we observe, but also why the
market has not fully collapsed.

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