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Heterogeneous incentives for innovation adoption: The price effect on segmented markets


It is now commonly accepted that poverty alleviation and the development of agricultural value chains in low income countries require farmers to innovate. However numerous constraints to innovation adoption have been identified. In the literature, the market structures on which producers sell their output have received remarkably little attention. In this article, I argue that these can impact a producer's choices with respect to the level of effort invested in changing agricultural practices. More specifically, due to transaction costs, contract farming and other market imperfections, output prices and production levels in rural areas are often jointly determined, leading to market segmentation. I develop a simple model to discuss how market segmentation induces nontrivial effects on incentives to innovate. Next, I rely on farm-level panel data from an extension project in the Peruvian highlands to test the empirical implications of the model. Producers that were not included in the formal market but close to it, performed better in improving agricultural practices. The indirect consequence of this investment is a higher price increase than the rest of the population, creating heterogeneous impacts of the programme, opportunities for economic mobility and a reduction in inequality. The evidence indicates how considering the effects of market structures leads to a more nuanced understanding of the process of agricultural innovation adoption in low and middle income countries.

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