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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Goat deworming and collective action: Evidence from field experiments in Bihar, India

Muzna Alvi1, Manavi Gupta2

1International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India
2International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)


To mitigate falling agricultural incomes, small livestock rearing, has gained widespread attention, especially among tribal groups and women, due to low investment requirements and access to community grazing lands. Despite growth in the goat population and rising demand for meat, goat health and livestock management practices continue to be rudimentary, driven by lack of access to information and resources around veterinary care. Using field experiments in rural Bihar, India, our paper explores how collective action can impact uptake of goat health practices at the community level, modelling deworming decision as a public-good problem.

We use an easy-to-understand public-good game, to elicit demand for goat deworming and understand the heterogenous nature of cooperation and free riding among goat farmers. The public good is created only when the provision point is met or exceeded. The game is played over multiple rounds, with and without communication, first with a hypothetical uniform endowment of goats, and then with actual herd size that varies across farmers. The provision point is randomly varied across the groups, and we also test for how the presence and gender of socially influential persons in the group affects behaviour. We are able to link decisions during the game to post-game purchase decision of deworming pills offered to farmers at the market price.

We find that free riding behaviour is predominant among farmers with small herds and for individuals in larger communities. Social network dynamics play a role in encouraging collective action when communication with influential or knowledgeable co-farmers is introduced in the game. Our findings offer suggestive evidence of why individual deworming rates may be low in rural communities, and why deworming may not have measurable impact on small-ruminant mortality and morbidity, unless community-wide action is taken.

Uncertainty can cause sub-optimal levels of resource creation. This uncertainty can be of two forms- social uncertainty when, the amount of people who will contribute to the good is unknown, and scientific uncertainty where the amount of contribution needed for the good to be created is unknown. Our paper explores the social uncertainty angle of public goods in the context of goat deworming.

Keywords: Cooperation, deworming, livestock, public good

Contact Address: Muzna Alvi, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), New Delhi, India, e-mail: m.alvi@cgiar.org

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