Why do farmers adopt some technologies but not others?
In an article published in the Hindustan Times this week, the vagaries of farmers’ adoption of new technologies are illustrated. The article highlights that farmers in many cases will simultaneously adopt some new technologies (for example a brand new wheat variety), while maintaining much older practices (such as using a 30 year old rice variety) on the same farm.
Two factors are explored that may be influencing this double standard of adoption; poor communication of science to farmers, and a reliance on policies that distort market function and signals to farmers about what are appropriate technical innovations.
Scientific recommendations need to be translated into relevant formats, with clear messages that align with farmers’ priorities. Subsidies need to be designed in a way that they can accelerate technology adoption and create incentives for adoption.
A forthcoming ACIAR project to be lead by the University of Western Australia will look more closely at the issue of farmer adoption and adaptation, using behavioural economics approaches to understand what influences farm level decision making, and using the results to improve extension, input provision and service delivery. Other projects within the ACIAR SDIP program will explore effective institutions that support farmers to implement sustainable and resilient farming systems.
Dr Kishore is a Research Fellow in the New Delhi Office of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and contributes to ACIAR’s work under the SDIP program.