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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa | Malawi
2018-10-24T17:12:26Z | 2018-10-24T17:12:26Z | 2018-10

To document the relative accuracy of methods for microdata collection on root and tuber crop production, an experiment was implemented in Malawi over a 12-month period, randomly assigning cassava-producing households to one of four approaches: daily diary-keeping, with semi-weekly supervision visits; daily diary-keeping, with semi-weekly supervisory phone calls; two six-month recall interviews, with six months in between; and a single 12-month recall interview. Lapses in diary-keeping can underestimate true production, albeit to a lesser degree compared to recall. And the comparisons between the diary variants and the variation in underestimation by recall period are unclear ex ante. The analysis reveals that compared to traditional diary-keeping, the household-level annual cassava production is 295 kilograms higher, on average, (and assumed as closer to the truth) under diary-keeping with phone calls. This effect corresponds to 28 percent of the average traditional diary-keeping production estimate. Although the difference between the estimates based on six-month recall and traditional diary-keeping is statistically insignificant, 12-month recall underestimates annual production, on average, by 516 kilograms and 221 kilograms, respectively, compared to diary-keeping with phone calls and traditional diary-keeping. While the recall-based approaches both underestimate true production, six-month recall does so to a lesser extent. The evidence additionally demonstrates likely gross overestimation in international and ministerial statistics on cassava yields in Malawi. For improved microdata on root and tuber crop production, the adoption of (i) diary-keeping with phone calls (particularly if deployed in a broader mobile phone–based survey) or (ii) six-month recall, as a second-best alternative, is recommended.

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