Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Baseline Report: An Evaluation of the Impact of E-verification on Counterfeit Agricultural Inputs and Technology Adoption in Uganda

In Uganda, use of high-quality agricultural inputs like hybrid seed, agrochemicals, and fertilizer is extremely low. Low levels of agricultural technology adoption have been compounded by a lack of farmer trust in the current inputs supply system, which has been plagued by counterfeiting. Counterfeit products range from benign fake or adulterated materials to banned substances that are harmful to crops and human health. Counterfeit agricultural inputs directly reduce productivity and, together with the perception of widespread counterfeiting, reduce demand for high-quality inputs. This lowers input prices and reduces profits for producers of genuine products.

In the face of this problem, USAID, through the Feed the Future initiative, is supporting the development of a program for input quality assurance called e-verification (EV). E-verification involves labeling genuine agricultural inputs with a scratch-off label that provides an authentication code that can be used to confirm that the labeled product is genuine. The consumer enters the code on a mobile phone and receives back an SMS message confirming the authenticity of the product. A pilot version of this approach undertaken in 2012 for herbicides demonstrated significant demand for e-verified herbicide and that farmers were willing to pay a modest price premium for this form of quality assurance.

The new USAID project (or “activity”) to support a scaled-up e-verification initiative is being led by Tetra Tech under its FTF Agriculture Inputs (Ag Inputs) activity. Given the potential importance of this initiative, USAID is funding an independent impact evaluation of the effectiveness of the EV system at improving adoption of high-quality inputs and reducing the prevalence of counterfeiting.

The objectives of the e-verification sub-activity are to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit and adulterated agricultural inputs, to increase adoption of high-quality agricultural inputs by farmers, to increase farmers’ profits and yields, and to improve household welfare. The impact ii evaluation will estimate the impact of the e-verification scheme on each of these outcomes and will examine how the e-verification project achieved its results. In addition, the evaluation will examine the role of social networks in the effects of the EV sub-activity on input adoption and diffusion, and will study how the impact of the sub-activity varied by farmer characteristics (e.g., education, age, risk preferences, wealth, relationship to retailer, sex).

This baseline survey report describes the Feed the Future e-verification sub-activity, introduces the impact evaluation study design, and describes the sample. The report then summarizes information from the baseline household survey and related data collection conducted in 2014 in order to describe the context for the study and its suitability to studying the counterfeiting problem. We also present balancing tests of mean differences in key outcome variables and selected control variables at baseline.

Related publications:

  • Do Beliefs About Herbicide Quality Correspond with Actual Quality in Local Markets? Evidence from Uganda. Journal of Development Studies, April 2018. Adoption of modern agricultural inputs in Africa remains low, restraining agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. Low quality agricultural inputs may in part explain low adoption rates, but only if farmers are aware that some inputs are low quality. We report the results of laboratory tests of the quality of glyphosate herbicide in Uganda and investigate whether farmers’ beliefs about the prevalence of counterfeiting and adulteration are consistent with the prevalence of low quality in their local market. We find that the average bottle in our sample is missing 15 per cent of the active ingredient and 31 per cent of samples contain less than 75 per cent of the ingredient advertised. Farmers believe 41 per cent of herbicide is counterfeit or adulterated. Beliefs are significantly correlated with quality at the local market level, but beliefs remain inaccurate, adjusting for only a fraction of actual differences in quality. Price is also significantly correlated with quality in local markets, but prices also adjust for only a fraction of quality differences. Although, like fertiliser and hybrid maize seed, herbicide in Uganda is low quality, herbicide use is substantially higher.