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DIME Event: The Effects of Exposure Intensity On Technology Adoption and Gains: Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh on the System of Rice Intensification

May 9, 2019

MC 7-100

  • In this presentation, we report the results of the first large-scale, multi-year experimental evaluation of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an innovation that first emerged in Madagascar in the 1980s and has now diffused to more than 50 countries. We find positive impacts of SRI on rice yields, profits, and various household well-being indicators.

    Using a randomized controlled trial with an innovative, multi-year, randomized saturation design, we find that greater cross-sectional or intertemporal intensity of exposure to the innovation has a sizable effect on Bangladeshi farmers’ propensity to adopt (and not to disadopt) SRI. There is significant spillover social learning by untrained farmers from trained farmers. But the biggest impacts on uptake and compliance with practices come through direct exposure, consistent with a complex contagion model of learning and technology diffusion.

    Average impacts of the technology, however, are invariant to exposure intensity, which seems to have mainly a scaling effect on diffusion of SRI, not an impact on performance with the technology. This finding appears most consistent with emerging models of multiple objective learning, as farmers quickly learn whether to adopt SRI but not necessarily how best to practice the method.


    Asad Islam (Monash University)

    Abdul Malek (BRAC)

    Debayan Pakrashi (IIT, Kanpur)

    Ummul Ruthbah (Dhaka University


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    Cornell University

    Christopher B. Barrett is Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management, and an international professor of agriculture at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, as well as a professor in the Department of Economics, and a fellow of the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, all at Cornell University. He has won several university, national, and international awards for teaching, research and public outreach, and is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, and the African Association of Agricultural Economists.

  • DIME is a World Bank-wide program to generate knowledge on the effectiveness of development policies. Working across 18 thematic areas, DIME collaborates with 300 agencies in 72 countries to improve the effectiveness of policies and programs and strengthen country capacity for real-time evidence-based policy-making. More »