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How do Agricultural Programmes Alter Crop Production? Evidence from Ecuador


  • Romina Cavatassi,

  • Lina Salazar,

  • Mario González-Flores,

  • Paul Winters

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    • Romina Cavatassi was a PhD graduate from the Environmental Economics and Natural Resource Group, Wageningen University when the paper was written and is now environmental economics' consultant with the Food and Agricultural Organization, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome, Italy. E-mail:; for correspondence; Lina Salazar is a Research Fellow in the Strategy Development Division, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC; Mario González-Flores is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Economics, American University, Washington, DC; Paul Winters is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, American University, Washington, DC. This study was funded by FAO–Netherlands Partnership Program (FNPP) and FAO Norway Partnership Program (FNOP). The authors thank the farmers and leaders of CONPAPA (Consorcio de la Papa): Francisco Jarrín and Hernán Pico; CIP and its Papa Andina Partnership Program, in particular: Graham Thiele, Patricio Espinosa, Jorge Andrade and José Jimenez; FAO-Ecuador: Iván Angulo Chacón; INIAP and PNRT-Papa: Iván Reinoso, Fabián Montesdeoca, Manuel Pumisacho, Fausto Yumisaca, Cecilia Monteros, José Unda, Xavier Cuesta, Jorge Rivadeneira and Ricardo Delgado; the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC): Galo Sánchez, Suzanne Mueller and its FORTIPAPA Project; the Central Ecuatoriana de Servicios Agropecuarios (CESA); M.A.R.CO. (Minga para la Acción Rural y la Cooperación): Carlos Falconí, Paúl Solís and Xavier Checa; the Instituto de Ecología y Desarrollo de las Comunidades Andinas (IEDECA): Mauricio Realpe, Osvaldo Poso and Alberto Oleas; Fabián Muñoz. The authors would also like to acknowledge the constructive and valuable comments from two anonymous referees. The usual disclaimer applies.


Evaluating agricultural programmes requires considering not only the programmes’ influence on input and output indicators, but also considering the relationship between these indicators as embodied in the production technology. This article examines the impact on production of an intervention in the Ecuadorian Sierra designed to improve returns to potato production through training and through linking smallholders to high-value markets. Critical to identifying the impact of the programme is the careful construction of a counterfactual and meticulous data collection. To assess the impact of the programme on production, a weighted estimation, where weights are constructed through propensity score matching, is employed to estimate a production function within a damage abatement framework. The function incorporates a series of interaction terms to assess the impact of the programme on the production technology. The findings provide evidence that the programme enhances yields both through a general shift in technology as well as increased input use. The results suggest that the use of effective farming techniques that are learned through the programme induce this technological shift.