Expert Commentary

Assessing the impact of training on lowland rice productivity in an African setting: Evidence from Uganda

2012 study in World Development on the transfer of Asian agricultural practices to Africa, and the outcomes of a pilot program.

While the green revolution of the 1960s brought significant improvements to the agricultural productivity of Asia and Latin America, the revolution has not enjoyed the same success in sub-Saharan Africa due to a variety of factors. Additionally, large population growth and widespread migration to urban areas in many parts of the region have resulted in demand for food growing at a faster rate than local supply.

Uganda stands as a salient case study in agricultural development and its economic dynamics, and the slow pace of its agricultural modernization is now hurting the country’s growth, according to the World Bank.

A 2012 World Development study, “Assessing the Impact of Training on Lowland Rice Productivity in an African Setting: Evidence from Uganda,” assesses the impact of a Japan International Cooperation Agency program on rice production in Eastern Uganda. The program, initiated in 2005, trained rice farmers on “lowland rice cultivation practices based on the Asian experience,” and facilitated the trainings immediately before farmers were to cultivate their fields, promoting maximum uptake of the interventions. Using survey data from 177 households, the authors — from the University of Tsukuba, Japan International Cooperation Agency and National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies — examined the impact of the program on three factors: “the adoption of improved cultivation practices, the productivity of rice farming, and the income and profit of rice production.”

The study’s findings include:

  • Participation in the training was positively associated with several outcomes for farmers, including greater access to information, membership in a local agricultural organization, extent of rice farming experience and the educational attainment of the head of the household.
  • Farmers that participated in the training program earned higher incomes from their rice farming as compared with those who did not participate in the training.
  • “Favorable access to water,” measured by both proximity to a water source and annual rainfall, “has a positive effect on the adoption of improved cultivation practices.” Similarly, those households with greater possessions and more valuable livestock were more likely to adopt the cultivation practices.
  • However, the crop yields were not as favorable as hoped for: “The weak impact of the training on rice yield may corroborate the weakness of the training program that did not provide irrigation facilities.”

The authors note that, while the results of the experiment are not conclusive, they “indicate that lowland rice profits can be significantly enhanced by the training program teaching about the basic cultivation practices.”

Tags: poverty

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