How building roads boosts agricultural production: Evidence from India


Published 06.10.21
Photo credit:
Surajram Kumaravel/flickr

Rural road construction in India increases investment in profitable crops and hired labour

Read “Rural road infrastructure and agricultural production: Evidence from India” by Yogita Shamdasani here.

Rural infrastructure projects are often seen by policymakers as complicated and expensive, but a growing body of evidence is highlighting just how important integration of rural communities is for local economic development. In this VoxDevTalk, Yogita Shamdasani discusses her recent work examining the impact of rural road construction in India on agricultural production patterns. Studying a government programme constructing all-weather roads in rural villages, she compares outcomes for villages that did and did not receive roads over a six-year period. 

She finds that for villages that received all-weather roads, agricultural production of more profitable crops increased, along with greater investments in capital and hired labour. She argues these results are due to increased access to both markets and a larger labour supply for sourcing farm labour, for these newly connected villages. While some villages experienced a shifting away from agricultural work into wage employment, this pattern was predominantly for villages close to urban areas. This research builds on existing knowledge of how road construction improves outcomes beyond agriculture such as health and education, and highlights how transformative road connectivity is for rural communities.