Fertilizer application rates in Sub-Saharan Africa stand at a tiny fraction of their levels in other parts of the developing world. In response, a number of countries have implemented fertilizer subsidy programs. The wisdom of these programs, which often come at substantial fiscal cost, is a matter of substantial debate: Are they smart policy or are governments getting low “bang for their buck” from such programs?
At this seminar, Thomas Jayne (MSU) reviewed key lessons learned from multi-country experience with input subsidy programs over the past decade. He also summarized the findings of recent inter-disciplinary research combining modern soil analysis tools with household survey data, which is paving the way for new opportunities to improve the effectiveness with which farmers use fertilizer, promote fertilizer use and contribute to sustainable agricultural productivity in Africa.
Michael Carter (UC-Davis) highlighted findings from an evaluation of a fertilizer voucher subsidy program in Mozambique. Unlike many subsidy schemes, the program in Mozambique was intentionally short-lived. The evaluation results show that the impact of the subsidies stuck. Two years after the end of the program, farmers who received the subsidy were using more fertilizer, obtaining higher yields and enjoying higher per-capita living standards than a randomly selected control group. Interactions between the voucher and a savings intervention that was implemented at the same time reveals further but surprising lessons on how subsidies work.
In the below video, Thomas Jayne and Michael Carter discuss their takeaways:
University of California—Davis
Michigan State University