In Nigeria, Abt has used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of the AgResults pull mechanism on farmer adoption of a biocontrol called Aflasafe to reduce aflatoxins in maize. After conducting endline data collection in the spring and performing analysis through the summer and early fall, the team presented results to the AgResults Steering Committee in October. The main results of this initial analysis showed that the pilot has increased the uptake of Aflasafe in the treatment group, as well as increased their maize revenues. It also showed that AgResults led to farmers’ receiving a premium on the price for maize. In these ways, the pilot has been successful in encouraging adoption of Alfasafe and beginning to develop a market for Aflasafe.
The analysis also showed, however, that there is potential for improvement in increasing farmers’ knowledge about aflatoxins and Aflasafe. While a majority (57%) of the farmers in the treatment group adopted Aflasafe, far fewer knew much about the benefits of Aflasafe or the health risks of aflatoxins. This result suggests that while maize aggregators are successfully encouraging farmers to use Aflasafe, they may not be passing along all of the information about the product and its purpose because it is costly to do so.
These results prompted a fruitful discussion among Steering Committee members, particularly centered on the fact that only 57% of the treatment group actually used Aflasafe, which meant that the results for the treatment group included both adopters and non-adopters. Steering Committee members pointed out that the impacts were watered down by those treatment group members who did not use Aflasafe at all. While recognizing that the extent of adoption by the program is a core part of the program’s impact, there was agreement that it would be beneficial to also consider the impacts of the pilot on just those who used Aflasafe (adopters) compared to those who did not (non-adopters) using quasi-experimental methods to balance the treatment and comparison groups.
After doing this additional analysis, not surprisingly, we saw larger impacts for those who adopted Aflasafe. The increase in revenue between adopters and on-adopters was nearly twice that between the original treatment and comparison groups. Similarly for the difference in prices received for maize sales. However, the impacts on knowledge about aflatoxins and Alfasafe, while larger than in the original analysis, were still quite modest. This supports the conclusion that while pull mechanisms can be effective in increasing the adoption of the technology, there may be an important role for push-based informational campaigns to raise awareness, once an adequate supply of Aflasafe-treated maize is made available. The final results for this evaluation will be available after the results go through the external peer review process.