Understanding Adoption: Sierra Leone’s Journey with PICS Bags
by Jingru Jia
Under the leadership of Dr. Paul McNamara and Jingru Jia, and in collaboration with Njala University, our team from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, engaged with over 400 households in Sierra Leone to understand their perceptions and potential adoption of PICS bags, a solution to post-harvest losses.
PICS bags are a simple technology that reduce post-harvest losses of grains by hermetically sealing out air and insects, eliminating the need for pesticides. Farmers can use the bags to safely store grains for later household use, or to sell when market prices are higher.
Initiated with a pretest survey in January, our main field experiment in May aimed to discern how information interventions might influence a community’s willingness to adopt PICS bags. Traditional storage often succumbs to pests, leading to significant losses. PICS bags, with their unique design, offer a promising alternative. But success required more than just distribution; it demanded a better way to make the local people have a deeper understanding of the bags. Our team delved into creating interventions, emphasizing the health and profit advantages of PICS bags. We sought to gather insights to inform policies that could facilitate the bag’s introduction effectively.
The feedback from Sierra Leone was invaluable. While not every household had firsthand experience with the bags, their perspectives painted a comprehensive picture, aiding our policy formulation. This study wasn’t just about a product; it was a bridge between research, tradition, and potential innovation for Sierra Leone’s agriculture.
Our insights from Sierra Leone are set to shape policies that resonate with the community’s needs, ensuring a thoughtful introduction of PICS bags. This research was funded by a grant from the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss.
Jingru Jia is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research primarily focuses on agricultural development and its intersections with food security.