Events organized by Ferdi, alone or in cooperation

Agricultural innovation : Learning for adopting

Atelier Ferdi Cerdi et SPIA - Innovations agricoles This research workshop was a joint event between Ferdi, Cerdi and SPIA of the CGIAR. It was meant to elicit brainstorming among 19 experts to explore research avenues and innovative design for the learning and adoption of new technologies by farmers.

Progress in productivity and income largely occurs via the adoption of technological and institutional innovations. Adoption of these innovations in turn crowds-in the greater use of factors of production and the adoption of other innovations.

Part of the under-development problem thus comes from insufficient adoption of potentially available innovations. While there are many obstacles to adoption, a major barrier is lack of access to information and lack of learning in using this information.

In this research workshop, we take on the issue of how smallholder farmers learn about new technological and institutional innovations and how this can be assisted by specific interventions. Learning can be direct through one’s own experimenting (often in response to advice received from extension agents or agro-dealers) or social through information conveyed by other farmers in one’s social network. To be effective, the way information is conveyed to farmers should correspond to the way they learn. This takes on many forms that will be explored in the workshop. Looming behind this effort is potential re-crafting of public or private extension services, a domain still in need of innovative designs and often acting as a major bottleneck to the adoption and diffusion of innovations.

This research workshop was a joint offering between Ferdi and SPIA of the CGIAR. It has been organized at the Ferdi in Clermont-Ferrand on June 1-2, 2016. It was meant to elicit brainstorming among 20-25 experts to explore research avenues and innovative designs for farmer learning for adopting. The immediate outcome will be a set of policy briefs on the subject published by Ferdi. The long-term outcome is expected to be better research conducted by participants.



Address and Contact information

Ferdi, Salle Moheau, 1er étage
63 Boulevard François Mitterrand
63000 Clermont-Ferrand (France)


We would like to thank the Université d’Auvergne and the Programme “Investissement d’avenir” for their support




Wednesday June 1st / Mercredi 1er Juin

Introduction : Learning for adopting

Chair: Alain de Janvry, Ferdi

9.00 – 9.30

Issues to be addressed
Patrick Guillaumont, Université d’Auvergne et Président de la Ferdi
Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA
Alain de Janvry, UC Berkeley and Ferdi

Session 1: Theoretical perspective on learning for adopting

Chair: Vianney Dequiedt, Cerdi

9.30 – 10.20

Learning models
Elisabeth Sadoulet, UC Berkeley

10.35 – 12.15


Social learning and network theory
Jeremy Magruder, UC Berkeley
Social learning in  the presence of imperfect information and heterogeneity
Emilia Tjernstrom, University of Wisconsin

Session 2: From theory to empiricism

Chair: Douglas Gollin, Oxford University

13.30 – 16.00
Selective trials for entry points and social learning
Sylvain Chassang, Princeton University and PSE
Technology adoption under uncertainly
Kelsey Jack, Tufts University
Trust in social networks
Stefano Caria, Oxford University
16.15 – 17.05
Heterogeneity and learning from others
Xavier Gine, The World Bank

Thursday June, 2nd / Jeudi 2 juin

Session 3: From learning to the design of extension services

Chair: Catherine Araujo-Bonjean, Cerdi

9.00 – 10.40

Correspondence between learning and extension models
Alain de Janvry, UC Berkeley and Ferdi
Optimizing social learning about agricultural technology: Experiments in India and Bangladesh
Kyle Emerick, Tufts University

11.00 – 12.40

Learning-by-doing and learning-from-others: evidence from agronomical trials in Kenya
Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA
Learning versus status quo bias and the role of social capital in technology adoption: The case of cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire
Alain Desdoigts, IRD and Paris I

Session 4: Research perspectives

Chair: Karen Macours, PSE and SPIA

14.00 – 14.50
Targeting extension services in the DRC
Tanguy Bernard, Université de Bordeaux
14.50 – 16.00
Lessons learnt and future directions
Panel discussion: Elisabeth Sadoulet, Jeremy Magruder, Sylvain Chassang, Vianney Dequiedt




Review of Theories of Learning for Adopting

by Elisabeth Sadoulet, University of California at Berkeley



Adjusting extension models to the way farmers learn

by Alain de Janvry · Elisabeth Sadoulet · Manaswini Rao



Can Network Theory-based Targeting Increase Technology Adoption?

by Lori Beaman, Northwestern University · Ariel BenYishay, College of William and Mary · Jeremy Magruder, UC-Berkeley ·Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University



Technology adoption under uncertainty: Take up and subsequent investment in Zambia

by B. Kelsey Jack, Tufts University and NBER · Paulina Oliva, UCSB and NBER · Samuel Bell, Shared Value Africa · Christopher Severen, UCSB · Elizabeth Walker, NERA Consulting


Disconnected - Experimental Evidence on Network Efficiency among Indian Farmers

by A. Stefano Caria, Centre for the Study of African Economies, Department of Economics, University of Oxford · Marcel Fafchamps, Stanford University



Identifying early adopters, enhancing learning, and the diffusion of agricultural technology

by Kyle Emerick, Tufts University · Alain de Janvry, University of California at Berkeley · Elisabeth Sadoulet, University of California at Berkeley · Manzoor Dar, International Rice Research Institute



Learning-by-doing and learning-from-others: evidence from agronomical trials in Kenya

by Rachid Laajaj, Universidad de Los Andes · Karen Macours, Paris School of Economics and INRA