Mariapia Mendola on agricultural transformation and farmers' expectations

WIDER Seminar Series

Mariapia Mendola on agricultural transformation and farmers' expectations

Abstract - Agricultural transformation and farmers' expectations: randomized experimental evidence from Uganda (with Jacopo Bonan and Harounan Kazianga)

Adoption rate of profitable agricultural technologies in Africa is still low and knowledge gaps remain on the mechanisms behind observed heterogenous patterns. This paper studies what drives smallholders working in subsistence farming in Uganda to adopt profitable cash crops (oilseeds) and turn to commercial farming. We exploit the randomized roll-out of a national extension service program to specifically investigate the role of farmers’ expectations in crop adoption decisions and the extent to which ex-ante beliefs about crop profitability (i.e. price and yield expectations) explain the resulting outcomes.

We find that randomly assigned extension services increase oilseeds adoption by 15% and those farmers who under-estimate the oilseeds price at baseline are the most likely to adopt the new crops. By testing how farmers update their beliefs after being randomly provided with extension services, our results point to a change in expectations as the main driver of agricultural technology uptake.

About the speaker 

Mariapia Mendola is Associate Professor of Economics at University of Milano Bicocca in Italy and Research Fellow at IZA. Her research interests are in the fields of Development Economics, Household and Population Economics. Her research work is focused on understanding household investment behaviour in developing contexts. By using different data srouces and methods, she studies welfare-improving choices such as human capital investment, migration, technology adoption and social networks.

She holds B.Sc. in Economics from Bocconi University in Milan, a MA in Development Economics from the University of Sussex and a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Milan. She has been visiting scholar at NYU and the Tinbergen Institute in Amsterdam.  

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases recent and ongoing work on key topics in development economics. The weekly sessions held in Helsinki are open to local and visiting researchers, policy makers, and others interested in development topics. Click here to learn more.

Seminars will be live streamed on Facebook and recordings and presentations will be available after the event here.

For more information email