One Acre Fund Research Partnership – Rwanda

PxD partners with One Acre Fund (OAF) in Rwanda to deliver push SMS's to volunteer community extension agents (called 'farmer promoters') to motivate and improve their performance and, by extension, farmer outcomes.

One Acre Fund, a mission-driven NGO, has operated in Rwanda since 2007 and is the largest agricultural input provider in Rwanda. OAF collaborates with the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) on national campaigns aimed at increasing the adoption of a variety of recommended practices from improved seed variety use, to the adoption of fertilizer and many others.  A critical component of OAF’s work involves capacity building and outreach via a network of volunteer, village-level extension agents known as “farmer promoters” (FPs).

FPs are volunteer community leaders who receive training from RAB and local government to serve as farmer-to-farmer extension agents in their own villages. FPs play an important role in delivering information to and conducting training for farmers regardless of whether they are enrolled in OAF’s services or not. Given that FPs are entirely voluntary, providing them with motivation and affirmation can be important to promote their performance.

Motivating Farmer Promoters

PxD has partnered with OAF since August 2018 to motivate FPs by sending them SMS and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) messages premised on human-centered design and informed by learnings from behavioral economics. These messages are intended to affirm the role of FPs in the community and nudge them to complete their responsibilities as FPs. There is one FP in each of Rwanda’s approximately 14,500 villages. The scope of the initiative includes FPs in all five provinces, spanning 2,089 cells and 12,310 villages – all of the FPs for whom OAF has contact information.

Creating Digital Tools for Extension Agents

In addition to our partnership with OAF, PxD has developed a Digital Tools for Extension Agents (DTEA) project to systematically understand the motivations of volunteer community extension and test the impact of motivational messages, customized to an individual agent’s personality traits, on their own performance and the outcomes of farmers they advise. The objective of the initiative is to generate quantitative evidence to assess the marginal impact of better-targeted advice for FPs on FP performance on their different responsibilities and farmer outcomes, such as registration for subsidized inputs.