Abstract Despite the growing attention to technology adoption in the economics literature, knowledge gaps remain regarding why some valuable technologies are rapidly adopted, while others are not. This paper contributes to our understanding of agricultural technology adoption by showing that a focus on yield gains may, in some contexts, be misguided. We study a technology in Ethiopia that has no impact on yields, but that has nonetheless been widely adopted. Using three waves of panel data, we estimate a correlated random coefficient model and calculate the returns to improved chickpea in terms of yields, costs, and profits. We find that farmers’ comparative advantage does not play a significant role in their adoption decisions and hypothesize that this is due to the overall high economic returns to adoption, despite the limited yield impacts of the technology. Our results suggest economic measures of returns may be more relevant than increases in yields in explaining technology adoption decisions.