Can Informed Buyers Improve Goods Quality? Experimental Evidence from Crop Seeds

Research Note
Published on 20 April 2022

Abstract

High-quality agricultural inputs play an important role in boosting agricultural productivity and supporting food security in low-income countries. However, the quality of agricultural technologies such as hybrid seeds, fertiliser, and pesticides is often difficult to directly observe. Diluted, expired, and counterfeit products often appear similar to genuine high-quality versions of the product. The inability of buyers to detect product quality may enable low-quality products to persist in the market as sellers are disincentivised from offering high-quality products. This study uses a field experiment to study whether improved consumer information can affect the quality of product that buyers obtain in the market. The study was conducted in the context of rural Kenya in markets for hybrid maize seed, a critical input for the region’s main staple crop.

Authors

Eric Hsu

University of California, Berkeley

Anne W. Wambugu

Strathmore Energy Research Centre