University of California - Davis
Michael Carter, Mary Mathenge, Travis Lybbert
This study will evaluate the impact of Western Seed Company’s (WSC) hybrid maize program on the welfare of smallholder farmers in Kenya’s mid-altitude regions. This locally-based and locally focused seed company is currently expanding into new areas, powered by recent infusions of venture capital. By collaborating closely with WSC, researchers are exploiting this geographic expansion with a two-year randomization design in parts of western and central Kenya, creating well-defined treatment and control groups. Because of differences between western and central Kenya, we expect the constraints, and ultimately the impacts in these two regions to be different. In particular, the western region is poorer, and farmers there are unlikely to reap the full benefits of WSC technologies in this liquidity-constrained environment. They therefore propose to relax these liquidity constraints for some farmers in western by providing fertilizer vouchers, randomized at the household level. In summary, researchers hope to learn about two key issues: the effectiveness of a local seed company in developing technologies fine-tuned to the local agro-ecological environment, and the impact of relaxing liquidity-constraints on the poverty-reduction potential of new agricultural technologies.