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Decentralized Targeting of Agricultural Credit Programs: Private versus Political Intermediaries

Maitra, P., Mitra, S., Mookherjee, D. & Visaria, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7406-4929 (2024). Decentralized Targeting of Agricultural Credit Programs: Private versus Political Intermediaries. Journal of the European Economic Association, doi: 10.1093/jeea/jvae018


We conduct a field experiment in India comparing two ways of delegating selection of microcredit clients among smallholder farmers to local intermediaries: a private trader (TRAIL), versus a local-government appointee (GRAIL). Selected beneficiaries in both schemes were equally likely to take up and repay loans, and experienced similar increases in borrowing and farm output. However farm profits increased and unit costs of production decreased significantly only in TRAIL. While there is some evidence of superior selection by ability and landholding in TRAIL, the results are mainly driven by greater reduction of unit production costs for TRAIL treated farmers than GRAIL treated farmers of similar ability or landholding. We develop and test a model where the TRAIL agents’ role as middlemen in the agricultural supply chain enabled and motivated them to offer treated farmers business advice, which helped them lower unit costs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Economic Association. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Finance
SWORD Depositor:
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