Who benefits from climate-friendly agriculture? The marginal returns to a rainfed system of rice intensification in Tanzania


Agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa faces a multitude of challenges arising from land degradation, climate change, and limited access to improved technology. In this context, technologies that raise farmers’ crop productivity while mitigating risk exposure are particularly valuable. This study assesses the impacts of a modified, rainfed variant of the system of rice intensification (SRI) on expected yields, yield variance (variability) and yield skewness (exposure to downside risk) in Tanzania. The appeal of the technology lies in its yield-enhancing potential, its low demand for complementary external inputs as well as its drought resistance features. While the uptake of SRI has been considerable in Asia, the limited uptake in Africa is puzzling, particularly given its suitability for the African setting. Our empirical strategy relies on the estimation of marginal treatment effect (MTE) models. We find that, while the average effects on adopters suggest that SRI enhances yield and reduces the downside risk of crop failure, the marginal treatment effects indicate that only farmers with low resistance to adoption, benefit. Our analysis also highlights the importance of farmers’ climate perception for the adoption of SRI and the need for policies that increase climate awareness to ensure food security. However, these results may well be specific to small scale, rainfed rice cultivation in Africa and therefore may not be generalizable to situations where SRI relies on irrigation.

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