Aflatoxin, a poisonous substance that can sprout on crops in hot, humid climates and cause liver cancer in humans, poses a serious public health threat and can cause economic harm by destroying crops. Researchers are varying the type of support offered to peanut farmers to assess the impact of providing incentives on farmers’ decisions to adopt Aflasafe in Senegal.
Aflatoxin, a poisonous fungi that can sprout on crops in hot, humid climates and cause cancer in humans and livestock, poses a serious public health threat and can cause economic harm by destroying up to 25 percent of crops. Reducing aflatoxin incidence could help address rising liver cancer rates and open export markets in areas suffering from low crop quality standards and high rates of aflatoxin. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture developed a new product to fight aflatoxin (Aflasafe), which reduces aflatoxin incidence by 80-99 percent when farmers apply the product during the growing season. Despite the health risks associated with frequent exposure to aflatoxin, awareness among farmers and the general public remains low, and there is little rigorous evidence on the best way to encourage farmers to adopt Aflasafe given widespread availability. How does sharing information and providing access to Aflasafe affect farmers’ decision to adopt Aflasafe and use it on their farms?
Context of the Evaluation
The groundnut industry in Senegal has suffered from limited access to international markets and lack of high-quality, low-aflatoxin goods for export. Smallholder farmers in the “peanut basin” of Senegal typically grow groundnuts, like peanuts, for both commercial sale and home consumption while also growing millet, sorghum, maize, and fruits such as mango or watermelon. Farmer cooperatives provide farmers the information and credit needed to buy seeds and fertilizer to sustain their production. They also help organize a stable outlet to sell crops. While these cooperatives usually sell to a single production company at a fixed price (without a bonus for quality), other smaller processing firms and exporters may pay a premium for high-quality, low-aflatoxin groundnuts.
Details of the Intervention
Researchers are assessing the impact of providing different types of support on peanut farmers’ decisions to adopt Aflasafe in Senegal. While all farmers have the opportunity to buy Aflasafe at the regular price and are informed that their groundnuts will be tested for aflatoxin upon delivery to the cooperative for sale, researchers will randomly assign villages to one of five support packages:
The evaluation is planned to take place over the July 2020-January 2021 growing season. The researchers will primarily measure how these interventions affect Aflasafe adoption and, secondarily, aflatoxin levels in groundnuts delivered to the cooperative post harvest. In addition, they will measure prices and aflatoxin levels in the local markets to understand if Aflasafe adoption has market-level effects, like increased prices or the opening of export markets.
Results and Policy Lessons
Project ongoing; results forthcoming.