Disseminating innovative resources and technologies to smallholders (DIRTS) in Northern Region, Ghana

Project overview

Project lead: Chris Udry, Innovations for Poverty Action

Start date: 1 July 2014

End date: 31 July 2017

Project webpage

Research Council project page

In Ghana’s Northern Region, smallholder farmers who cultivate rainfed crops face significant risk and achieve just a fraction of potential yields. They can face weather shocks, chronically underinvest in input technologies, maintain limited liquid savings and may be food insecure.

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), the University of Development Studies (UDS) and the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) partnered to examine the barriers to smallholder farmer adoption of intensified cultivation practices and risk management tools.

They also measured the impact of three innovative, potentially scalable programmes on farm production and profitability, consumption and food security, intra-household labour allocation, asset holdings and rural household resilience.

The project used randomised controlled trial methodology to measure the impact of providing assured rural access to:

  • improved information flows through Android-based extension applications;
  • improved-yield input technology packages at varying prices; and
  • commercial drought index insurance at varying prices.

The project was implemented by the MoFA, and rigorously evaluated by IPA. On conclusion of the study, partners widely disseminated evaluation results, demand curves, cost-benefit analyses, programmatic tools, policy recommendations and scale-up strategies.