Does caste determine farmer access to quality information
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This paper explores the social inclusiveness of agricultural extension services in India. We estimate the probability and frequency of farmers' access to extension services and resulting changes in crop income across different caste groups. The literature suggests that caste-based social segregation manifests in various spheres of life, and perpetuates economic inequality and oppression. An econometric analysis of nationally-representative data from rural India verifies this with respect to the agricultural sector. Farmers belonging to the socially-marginalized castes are found to have a lower chance of accessing the public extension services, primarily due to their inferior resource-endowment status. Contacting extension agents at least once increased the average annual crop income by about 12 thousand Indian rupees per household, which is equivalent to 36% of the annual crop income of those without access to extension services. There exists significant impact heterogeneity. Farmers from the socially-marginalized castes hardly benefited from accessing the extension services. Based on these observations, we have developed a number of policy recommendations that could improve the social inclusiveness of agricultural development strategies in rural India.
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