Evaluation of the impacts of a soil fertility training programme on farm productivity in the volta region of Ghana

Publication Details

Author
David Spielman, Ephraim Nkonya, Kwaw Andam
Country
Ghana
Region
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)
Sector
Agriculture and Rural Development
Subsector
Agricultural Credit, Agricultural Extension, Agro-Industry & Marketing, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Yes
Equity Focus
Gender
Evaluation design
Difference-in Difference (DID), Propensity Score Matching (PSM), Mixed Methods
Status
Ongoing 3ie Funded Studies
3ie Funding Window
Agricultural Innovation Thematic Window

Synopsis

This study specifically aims to use the scale up of ISFM (Integrated soil fertility management) practices in Ghana to evaluate the impact of this integrated intervention on change in awareness, learning, uptake, adoption, productivity, and welfare of farmers. 

Context

In Ghana, low soil fertility serves as a critical impediment to food production and food security. Hence, Africare is working in the Volta region of Ghana to promote ISFM practices and marketing strategies. Africare will train FBOs (Farmer-based organisations)  and other selected individuals on different aspects of ISFM. Additional services will focus on the marketing end of the value chain. 

The evaluation gives scope to directly engage with decision makers at a critical time as they explore options for investing resources in strengthening, training and empowering farmers and FBOs in Ghana. 

Research questions

Does Africare’s ISFM training increase the awareness and use of purchased inputs and integrated soil fertility management practices and marketing strategies among smallholders?

  • Does Africare’s ISFM training result in increases in land productivity (yields) for major crops and increases in labour productivity on the farm and market participation?
  • Does Africare’s ISFM training result in an increase in the returns to farming and improvements in household welfare

Methodology

Intervention design

Africare’ intervention comprises of two key components. The first component aims to improve marketing services through privately­ managed agro­input shop and FBO-managed warehousing services. The second and most important feature of the programme includes a training of trainers (ToT). Africare will train FBOs and other selected individuals on different aspects of ISFM. 

Theory of change

It is expected that improved access to information and best practices for smallholder farmers will lead to increased adoption of ISFM technologies and practices. The training will build capacities of farmers to coordinate and engage in input and output markets and these will eventually serve as focal points for efficient post­harvest handling and marketing. These newly adopted ISFM technologies and practices will contribute to increased agricultural productivity and efficient agricultural hubs, which in turn will cause improved food security and income, thereby reducing poverty. 

Evaluation design

The evaluation uses a combination of difference­in­difference (Diff-in-Diff) approach and propensity score matching (PSM) to compare the following groups and understand programme impact. 
(a)    Farmers trained by Africare­trained trainers in villages that are located at Africare’s two project sites in the Volta region (the “treatment group”)
(b)    Farmers not trained in villages with similar agro­ecological and socioeconomic characteristics that are located outside of Africare’s project sites (the “pure control group”)  

The sample size will include 759 farms, or 543 households in the treatment group, and 825 farms or 590 households in the control group. The study will also employ mixed methods, and the qualitative component of the study will explore in greater detail the intervention and its context, to understand farmers’ perception of and experience with the programme. This study also allows for an analysis of heterogeneous effects, particularly effects pertaining to wealth and assets, gender, and other key attributes that characterise differences in households. 

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