Performance incentives and information communication technologies in Ugandan agricultural extension service delivery

Festus O. Amadu, Paul E. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agriculture is the backbone of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, lack of efficient extension systems to support agricultural development is widely seen as a missing link in agricultural transformation in the region. International development agencies have in the past four decades invested heavily in various extension models such as the Training and Visit and Farmer Field School systems in order to enhance the performance of extension workers. Despite such investments, the performance of extension agents does remain suboptimal in many contexts. Studies in other sectors show that incentivizing worker performance through nudges such as incentive realignment schemes that tie worker performance to a pay/bonus system could enhance worker productivity. However, there is a lack of incentive realignment studies that estimate the performance of extension agents in sub-Saharan Africa. A potential hindrance to the application of such scheme to extension is the absence of monitoring mechanisms to track the performance of extension agents who often work across diverse local contexts to reach smallholder farmers with extension advice. This study empirically estimates the effect of an information communication technology (ICT)-based payment incentive system that tracks the performance of extension workers in rural Uganda. It undertakes a quasi-experimental ex-post impact assessment of a payment incentive realignment as an exogenous shift in the price of labor for extension services by Ugandan Community Knowledge Workers (CKWs) in 2011. This study applies a difference-in-difference with propensity score matching technique to estimate the effect of an ICT-based incentive re-alignment scheme in 2011, on the performance of 461 CKWs in rural Uganda. The study shows that CKWs in rural Uganda respond positively to an ICT-based performance incentive scheme that affects the price of labor. Results suggest that such performance systems can enhance the productivity of CKWs - an exemplar of rural extension agents in Uganda and elsewhere in developing countries. It also finds that younger CKWs respond more productively to higher incentives than their older counterparts. Therefore, the study suggests that extension policies that tie extension agents' performance to ICT-based payment incentives could enhance their performance and contribute towards the sustainable developments goals on food security, among others, through multiplier effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14113-14136
Number of pages24
JournalAfrican Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Agricultural extension
  • Community knowledge workers
  • ICT-based performance incentives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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