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Technology Adoption in African Agriculture


Yields of cereal crops have more than doubled globally since 1960, yet agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa has remained stagnant. Why has the Green Revolution passed Africa by? To help answer this question, the Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI) has funded 40 randomized controlled trials in agriculture over the past five years, focusing on how to promote the adoption of technologies that boost crop yields. This talk will discuss how technology can help countries leap-frog some of the barriers to agricultural productivity growth in Africa, and will present the lessons that have emerged from the ATAI trials. Professor McIntosh will discuss his ongoing project using SMS and mobile phones to improve food markets in Uganda.

Craig McIntosh is a professor of economics at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego, and co-director of the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab. He is a development economist whose work focuses on program evaluation. His main research interest is the design of institutions that promote the provision of financial services to micro-entrepreneurs, and he has conducted field evaluations of innovative anti-poverty policies in Mexico, Guatemala, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

He is currently working on research projects investigating how to boost savings among the poor, on whether schooling can be used as a tool to fight HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and on mechanisms to improve the long-term viability of fair trade markets.

As co-director of the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab, McIntosh is an expert on issues related to credit, insurance and savings markets in developing countries, as well as on how to evaluate policy impacts from how to design and conduct randomized field trials or impact assessments to how data or surveys can be used to conduct post assessments.

Before earning his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from UC Berkeley, McIntosh did aid work in Somalia with the International Rescue Committee and spent a year on a Fulbright grant as a research director at FINCA/Uganda, a major microfinance lender. 

The Food and Nutrition Policy Symposium Series brings leading experts to Stanford to share new research in an integrated, ten-lecture series on global food and nutrition policy. The series follows on the success of the two-year Global Food Policy and Food Security Symposium Series that concluded in May 2013. We thank Zach Nelson and Elizabeth Horn for their generous support of the symposium series, in honor of Phillip Falcon.