Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by a fungus that grows on certain crops, such as maize and groundnuts. Consumption of high levels of aflatoxin can be fatal, and chronic exposure has been linked to liver cancer, suppressed immune response, and child stunting.

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Evidence suggests additional investments in agriculture could increase income for subsistence farmers, potentially improving the livelihoods of millions of people. In rural Mali, giving some farmers unrestricted cash grants led to significantly higher productivity and profits, suggesting farmers would invest more in their farms if they had more capital.

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Commitment savings products are a useful tool to help individuals with self control problems stick to their financial plans, but they are unnecessarily restrictive for individuals who want to back out of their commitments due to an unanticipated change in income or other household shock. To shed light on the mechanisms behind the failure to adhere to financial plans, researchers carried out a lab-like study in Malawi that mimicked real life choices.

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Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa tend to underinvest in inputs such as fertilizer, hybrid seeds, and labor, though such investments could increase their agricultural yields and profits. The constraint may be cash, or it may be the risk. In northern Ghana, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to evaluate whether access to capital or risk was driving farmers’ investment decisions.

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In the absence of formal credit markets, many farming households engage in costly coping strategies to make ends meet between harvests, including reduced food consumption, informal borrowing and short-term work for other farms. In Zambia, researchers examined the impact of access to seasonal credit on the wellbeing of farming households as well as agricultural output.

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Farmers in western Kenya have limited knowledge of farm inputs suitable for the agro-ecological conditions they face, and use of agricultural inputs in the region is low. This study in western Kenya evaluates how farmer experimentation and learning about different inputs impacts farmers’ subsequent use of high-quality inputs and the productivity of their farms.

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Child stunting has been associated with exposure to aflatoxin, a toxin produced by a fungus that affects crops such as maize, groundnuts, and sorghum. However, the causal relationship between aflatoxin exposure and height-for-age child growth has not been demonstrated.

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Access to rural finance is considered a key tool to reduce poverty among farmers, yet existing microcredit models have shown limited capacity to increase profitability for these farmers. Improved approaches may address the behavioral constraints that farmers face, such as the temptation to sell when cash is needed but prices for crops are low.

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Farmers may vary in their suitability as experimenters with new agricultural technologies. For example, farmers likely differ in their beliefs regarding the possible returns of the technology, in their willingness to take risks with an unknown product or process, and in their social skills and willingness to share information with others.

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In the last two decades, large numbers of Mongolian herders have migrated to the outskirts of the country’s major cities, which has led to conflicts over land and  overgrazing of common pastureland. Herders may change their herding practices to better sustain the land if they own rights to it, which could also translate into bigger and healthier animals, and more income for the herders.

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Do property and land rights lead to better access to credit and increased investments in one’s land? It is widely assumed so, but there is little evidence to support this assumption. In this study, researchers go to Mongolia where many recent migrants to urban areas lack property rights. Researchers are evaluating the impact of two versions of a program that provides direct assistance to households seeking to privatize and register land plots.

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Prices of staple foods like maize, beans, and rice vary substantially in Sub-Saharan Africa, depending on the season, country, and region. Addressing the imbalance in food supply and increasing farmer income may require a multi-pronged approach that tackles multiple barriers at once. Researchers will evaluate the impact of contract farming services and a mobile technology-enhanced trader alerts system on food markets across Uganda.

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Sierra Leone’s government made agriculture its top priority beginning in 2008, but policymakers lacked information about the status of the sector. In August 2009, the Government of Sierra Leone commissioned a large-scale survey to obtain accurate and credible agricultural data that could serve as a baseline for years to come.

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