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