This project aims to unlock the potential of agricultural technologies and best practices by improving extension-adoption through emphasis on farmers’ perceptions and experiences, as expressed by poor, marginalised, and female-headed households. The overall strategy is to: better understand farmer decision-making in the context of their lives; identify possible connections between farmer needs and available technologies; test different approaches to extension-adoption using partnerships and demonstration sites; measure adoption; and then disseminate our findings to farmers, researchers, and agricultural development practitioners in North-west Cambodia and Southeast Asia. In simple terms, this project analyses the intersection of agriculture and development, beginning with what farmers value and want.
A farmer’s decision to adopt an agricultural technology or practice involves many technical, local, financial, contextual, and personal factors. This means that efforts to encourage adoption must prioritise the farmer’s perceptions of problems and solutions, including how farmers imagine solutions might be implemented and the actors they believe are involved. Such problem-solution pathways (PSPs) emphasise the everyday influences that, ultimately, determine adoption. This way of understanding farmer decision-making is especially important in North-west Cambodia, where the problems of ongoing poverty and marginalisation remain significant impediments to more sustainable development. Added to this context, following rapid expansion, the region is in the midst of a cassava boom, and possible bust. In Battambang and Pailin, cassava is an incredibly important crop, providing this research with a case and context through which to analyse farmer decision-making. As of 2018, cassava in neighbouring countries and provinces are experiencing significant impacts from disease and pest, meaning that farmer decision-making is an especially important consideration at the moment.
Alongside our in-country partners, Prek Leap National School of Agriculture and NGO Partners for Rural Development (PRD), this research will analyse thirteen villages from Samlot (6) and Pailin (7) provinces, applying a mixed-methodology that combines quantitative surveys, semi-structured interviews, participant observations, home visits, and Delphi panel surveys. We will measure whether a PSP-based approach results in improved adoption of agricultural technologies or best practices, particularly amongst poor, marginalised, and female-headed households.
Structure of the Project (methodology)
In Objective 1 we will analyse farmers’ descriptions of their lives, their problems, and their desired solutions (i.e., farmer PSP); in Objective 2 we will analyse those farmer PSPs using experts involved in the extension-adoption of agricultural technologies and best practices in Cambodia. In Objective 3 we will apply findings from Objectives 1 and 2 to demonstration farms, first demonstrating cassava ‘best practices’, and in years 2-4 adding demonstration of the crops, practices, or transitions desired by farmers. Finally, in Objective 4 we will measure the impact of this PSP-based approach to adoption.