Irrigation, Property Rights and Land Markets for Resilient Growth in Rwanda and Senegal, with Alain de Janvry, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, Jeremy Magruder, and Samba Mbaye (Université Gaston Berger, Sénégal)

Irrigation may be the most effective way to achieve higher and more resilient agricultural yields, farm incomes and household well-being. Yet, in many regions of the world where agriculture is key for growth and rural poverty is concentrated, little irrigation is used and use is significantly below optimum.
This MRR Innovation Lab project in Rwanda and Senegal explores how stronger property rights and better functioning land and labor markets can maximize the potential of large-scale irrigation projects to generate agricultural growth and resilience in rural communities.
In Senegal, large infrastructure projects along the Senegal River have progressively irrigated 240,000 hectares of land since 1970. These infrastructure projects allocated land to farmers under a variety of property rights and management organizations. We will analyze the impact of irrigation on agricultural productivity and diversification, the sustainability of agriculture and regional development.
In Rwanda, irrigation has an enormous potential to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. Implemented by the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting, and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) project began in 2015 and will have 25,000 HA of hillsides under irrigation by 2020. 
We will conduct an experiment that seeks to alleviate land and labor market constraints that prevent the full use of LWH irrigation potential. Prior focus group discussions in the area have highlighted the limited and informal means of learning about land rental opportunities. 
Funded by Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk, and Resilience (USAID) 2020-2022

Quality-graded wheat value chain development and agricultural transformation in Ethiopia, with Alain de janvry, Tanguy Bernard (University of Bordeaux and IFPRI) and Gashaw Abate (IFPRI Ethiopia)

With deepening globalization of food markets, demand for higher quality agricultural products has been rising rapidly in SSA. Yet, lack of farm-level quality recognition in domestic value chains frequently fails to give incentives to smallholder farmers to improve quality, putting them at risk of being displaced on their own markets by high quality imports. This is what has been happening with wheat in Ethiopia. We propose to study the introduction of a new third-party quality certification system for wheat on local markets. A key feature of this innovation is that it will make cost effective the certification of quality at the smallholder farmer level, before any aggregation is operated by traders in selling to mills that do practice quality recognition and price discrimination. Conducted in partnership with Digital Green and coordinated with the Agricultural Transformation Agency, the market-level experiment will use a randomized controlled trial to assess: (1) how farmer-purchased certification affects farmer-level price premiums for quality (price pass-through); (2) what is the price elasticity of farmers’ demand for certification services; (3) how certification encourages farmers to adopt quality- and quantity-enhancing inputs and practices as elements of an agricultural transformation (behavioral response); and (4) what are the marketed-surplus and poverty-reduction impacts of this value chain development. If successful, this one-time intervention is expected to induce a scalable and sustainable transformation of the wheat value chain with an important role for smallholder farmers
Funded by JPAL-CEGA ATAI 2019-2022

Agro-dealers and adoption of flood tolerant rice in Odisha, with Alain de Janvry, Kyle Emerick (Tufts University, and Manzoor Dar, IRRI

In spite of demonstrated profitability, a new flood tolerant rice variety has failed to diffuse to potential in Odisha, India. Based on field observations, we hypothesize that this is due to lack of information and of seed availability for potentially adopting farmers. The proposed experiment will test whether extension services targeted at agro-dealers can be more effective than when only targeted at farmers. Once informed, agro-dealers are self-motivated to inform farmers and make seeds available to them.
Funded by JPAL-CEGA ATAI 2017-2020

Designing Performance Indicators for Carrier Incentives, with Alain de Janvry, Shaoda Wang, and Qiong Zhang (Renmin Universiy)

We consider a case of career incentives given to local civil servants hired by the Chinese Government to serve the broad needs of the population. In collaboration with the regional officials and a provincial research center focusing on local governance, we propose to test alternative performance evaluation schemes, ranging from the status quo of delegation to local officials with total discretion, to a transparent performance score based on easily observable high signal-to-noise ratio indicators. We will also test two intermediate schemes, a transparent scoring formula including a larger set but of lower signal-to-noise ratio indicators, and giving discretion to the local officials to decide on the weighting scheme but not the components of the performance score. The objective is to test whether the levels of precision, transparency, and delegation in assigning performance scores improve the power of incentives, and to detect potential trade-offs in performance along non-incentivized dimensions due to multi-tasking.
Funded by JPAL Governance Initiative 2017-2019

Long-term Diffusion and Impact of Flood-tolerant Rice

Funded by JPAL-CEGA ATAI 2015-2019