Adoption of technical standards and productivity in the oil palm sector in Côte d’Ivoire
The main objective of this research is to contribute to the improvement of the adoption rate of agricultural technical standards, which would be a springboard for the adoption of new technologies in the agricultural sector in Côte d’Ivoire. More specifically, this research will introduce an innovation in farmer training and show that this intervention has a significant positive impact on the adoption of technical standards by oil palm farmers. It will start by identifying the economic, social, climatic or agricultural constraints or difficulties that prevent farmers from adopting good oil palm cultivation practices. It will therefore propose an intervention that will lead farmers to overcome these difficulties to adopt good agricultural practices. Furthermore, it will show that the adoption of good agricultural practices has a significant positive impact on oil palm productivity and that this impact is much greater than that of agricultural advice alone.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the variety recommended by the oil palm sector, and which is practiced by a large majority of planters, has a potential yield of up to 20 tonnes per hectare per year (AIPH, FENACOPAH-CI, & FIRCA, 2011) but the average yield of the commodity is only about 8 tonnes per hectare per year (Djallo, Donald, & Rouanet, 2017; Djallo & Kama, 2019; ENSEA, 2016a). There are many reasons for this low yield, but the main cause is undoubtedly the failure to follow good oil palm cultivation practices taught during training sessions. We are therefore considering an innovation in the training of planters that will mainly contribute to encouraging planters to adopt good agricultural practices. For example, a supplementary module will be administered to farmers during the agricultural advisory sessions to stimulate their willingness to adopt the technical standards in force. In addition, SMS or audio messages could be sent periodically to farmers as reminders and incentives to adopt good agricultural practices.
To achieve the objectives of this research, the following three main hypotheses are formulated:
- H1. The proposed intervention has a significant positive impact on the adoption rate of technical standards
- H2. The adoption of technical standards has a significant positive impact on oil palm productivity.
- H3. The impact of the adoption of technical standards on productivity is greater than that of agricultural advice alone.
To validate or not the above hypotheses, we will use impact assessment methods.
To test hypothesis H1, we will implement a randomised controlled trial, with one group of farmers receiving the proposed programme (treatment group) and another group of farmers not receiving the programme (control group). These two groups will be created by random assignment, which will ensure that they are, prior to the intervention, identical in both observable and unobservable characteristics. We will conduct two or three data collections from our study sample, notably at the beginning of our research, and one or two years later. Existing data from the oil palm industry on farmers may also be used.
To test hypotheses H2 and H3, we will use a nearly-experimental impact assessment methods, since agricultural advice is supposed to be provided to all farmers but in reality only reaches two out of three farmers, and these farmers decide on the basis of their own beliefs whether or not to adopt the standards recommended by the supervisors. It is therefore inappropriate to consider randomized control trials for these two types of treatment. Thus, discontinuity regression, double difference or matching methods can be explored.
Contribution to the literature
Most work on the adoption of good agricultural practices has focused on the search for determinants (Ouattara, 2017; Adéoti et al., 2002; Savadogo et al., 1998; Ichaou, 2015; Roussy, Ridier, & Chaib, 2015). Not only is such work rare in Côte d’Ivoire, but to our knowledge, there is no research that proposes a strategy to improve the adoption rate of technical standards in the oil palm sector, and that moreover uses a randomized controlled trial to establish its result. It appears therefore that our study will be novel and will constitute an important work in the search for strategies to improve the productivity of cash crops in Côte d’Ivoire.