Gine, Xavier, Patel, Shreena, Cuellar-Martinez, Cristina, McCoy, Sandi and Ralph Lauren, Enhancing food production and food security through improved inputs: an evaluation of Tanzania’s National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme with a focus on gender impacts, 3ie Impact Evaluation Report 23. New Delhi: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)Link to Source
This evaluation looks at the impact of the National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS), which provides vouchers to farmers to buy agricultural inputs at a subsidised rate, using a 2x2 factorial design. The first dimension is determined by the type of method used to determine the eligible household (by a public meeting or by the village voucher committee) and the second dimension is determined by the way that the voucher was allocated (through a random lottery or by the village voucher committee – VVC). The program targets small holders (under 1 hectare) and farmers that are able to afford the subsidized price of the inputs; it also gives preference to female farmers and farmers that have not used improved inputs before the study.
Using data from a household survey designed for the impact evaluation, the authors explore the impacts of the voucher scheme on agricultural productivity, health and nutrition, and overall welfare of farming households across Tanzania. Impact heterogeneity across the gender of household head is explored. This latter was done using also a qualitative study focused on female farmers to explore in-depth the unique barriers and facilitators to NAIVS participation among this population.
Analyses of these data reveals mixed findings regarding the impact of NAIVS on agricultural production, household nutrition and household welfare. Analysis of the impacts of the subsidy programme on agricultural input use, productivity, and profitability in Arusha where targeting interventions were successful, results indicate the tension between efficiency and equity. In villages where the local VVC chose beneficiaries, farmers who were most able to benefit from the programme appear to have been targeted more efficiently than in other villages in which beneficiaries were randomly chosen, resulting in higher use of inputs and in some cases yields among households in these villages. Findings also suggest that in villages where farmers were randomly selected to receive the voucher, selling or sharing of vouchers between beneficiaries and non-‐beneficiaries was more common, thus highlighting spillover effects of the programme.
Findings clearly highlighted the disenfranchised position of female-‐headed households relative to their male counterparts. Further, food insecurity and reduced dietary diversity were significantly more common among female-headed households. Results from the qualitative study confirmed and contextualized these findings, revealing that although female farmers felt positively about the programme and its ability to help boost yields, many could not afford the top-up payment and as a result did not participate. Impact analyses also demonstrated that being a beneficiary was associated with increases in input use, yields, and output sold among female-headed households in all villages except those where voucher assignment was fully randomized.
Although the study hypothesized that participation in NAIVS might influence other distal outcomes related to household expenditures, human capital accumulation, and autonomy (among female headed households), impact analyses did not consistently detect significant differences between beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries with regard to these outcomes although this may be because these outcomes need more time to materialize than the one year afforded by the impact evaluation.
About this impact evaluation
Raising agricultural productivity is the principal challenge facing African agriculture, including in Tanzania. Agriculture in Tanzania accounts to 27 percent of GDP, 80 percent of employment, 75 percent of household income and is a key component for the country strategy for poverty reduction. One area that has received a lot of attention is that of input subsidies to promote the use of modern agricultural inputs in an effort to raise crop yields that remain well below the potential of readily available technology.
This is the first prospective impact evaluation of input subsidies as a mechanism to enhance productivity and improve food security on a large scale. The evaluation investigates the cost-effectiveness of the National Agriculture Input Voucher Scheme and its effects on incomes, agricultural production, food consumption and food security.
Read an article on IPP Media entitled Farmers' subsidy voucher system registers success