Learning for Adoption: Technology Adoption in Developing Country Agriculture

Policy briefs from the workshop organized by Ferdi and SPIA on June 1 and 2, 2016, in Clermont-Ferrand.

Productivity growth in agriculture is expected to be the main source of successful structural transformation and industrialization for pre-industrial developingcountries with an un-captured potential in agriculture. Indeed, history tells us that agricultural revolutions have preceded industrial revolutions in most countries withrural populations. Recent experiences with industrialization in countries such as China, India, and Brazil support this proposition. Productivity growth in agriculturerequires the availability of technological innovations for agriculture and adoptionof these innovations by the farm community. In recent years, emphasis has been given to the lag between the presumed availability of promising innovations andtheir adoption. Many factors can be associated with lack of adoption, such as credit constraints, lack of insurance coverage, high transaction costs on markets,or behavioral inadequacies. In addition, as information about new technologiesis a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for adoption, a good understanding of potential information failures that limit farmers adoption of available technologiesis considered key. This puts the focus on the performance of extension services and the transfer of information through social networks, agro-dealers, or farmer’s commercial partners upstream in the value chain.

Motivated by this observation FERDI (Fondation pour les études et recherchessur le développement international) and SPIA (Standing Panel on Impact Assessment of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council) organized a workshop to explore the current knowledge on how farmers learn anddecide on adoption. Presented here is a summary of the main conclusions reached in the workshop and a brief outline of the presentations made. The presentationsare summarized in the eleven policy briefs that follow this introduction.