Policy Insights in Agriculture

J-PAL’s Agriculture sector focuses on improving agricultural systems in developing countries. Our policy insights below summarize general lessons from randomized evaluations on providing credit and information to smallholder farmers and protecting them from risk.
Craig McIntosh (University of California, San Diego) and Tavneet Suri (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)), Agriculture Co-Chairs
farmers in a field
Photo: Tom Gilks | J-PAL

Incentivizing higher-quality agricultural outputs

Last updated: September 2021
Despite making investments in technologies and practices to improve the quality of their products, smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries do not often receive higher prices for their higher-quality agricultural goods. Disorganized markets with many intermediaries may make quality...

Facilitating savings among smallholder farmers to smooth or increase consumption

Last updated: May 2019
Offering savings products to smallholder farmers did not transform agricultural investment or output in six studies in sub-Saharan Africa. In a few cases, savings products sometimes benefited farmers by providing a form of risk protection and by helping them smooth consumption over time.

Agricultural information and extension services

Last updated: April 2018
Agricultural information and extension services in developing countries can be improved by adapting the pedagogical model, using information and communications technology (ICT) to reach farmers directly with more tailored and timely information, incentivizing trainers based on learning outcomes, and...

Credit's limited impact on smallholder farm profitability

Last updated: April 2018
Increasing access to traditional microcredit has had limited impacts on smallholder farmers’ profitability in randomized evaluations in developing countries. Demand for new offers of credit was low, ranging from 17 to 33 percent, and even when farmers used traditional credit products to invest in...

Protecting farmers from weather-based risk

Last updated: February 2016
Weather index insurance protects farmers against losses due to extreme weather and facilitates investments in their farms, but low demand for these products at market prices suggests the need for alternative approaches to protecting farmers from weather-based risk in developing countries.

Sector Chairs

Co-Chair, Agriculture

Professor of Economics

University of California, San Diego

Scientific Director, J-PAL Africa

Co-Chair, Agriculture

Co-Chair, Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa (DigiFI Africa)

Associate Professor of Applied Economics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Sector Contacts

Headshot of Brindha Gopalakrishnan

Policy Associate, J-PAL Global

Senior Policy Manager, J-PAL Global

Senior Policy Associate, J-PAL Global