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Awareness and adoption of CA in Malawi: what difference can farmer-to-farmer extension make?

October 9th, 2018

Despitethe potential of conservation agriculture (CA) for increased crop yields,energy savings, soil erosion control, and water-use efficiency, smallholderfarmers in sub-Saharan Africa have been slow to adopt. Farmer-to-farmerextension (F2FE) may have a role to play in overcoming the information accessproblems and lack of knowledge that may preclude widespread adoption. Thisstudy uses data for 180 lead farmers linked to their 455 followers toinvestigate how F2FE influences awareness and adoption of CA technologies inMalawi. Results from a bivariate probit model for follower farmer awareness andadoption of the three CA principles (minimum soil disturbance, crop residueretention, and crop diversification) reveal four main findings: First, leadfarmer motivation increases their effectiveness at diffusing CA practices totheir followers. Second, lead farmer familiarity with and adoption of CA bothmatter to the spread of CA practices, but familiarity appears more important.Third, lead farmers play a more critical role in increasing awareness thanadoption of the CA practices. Finally, F2FE is a complement rather than a substitutefor other sources of agricultural extension in Malawi’s pluralistic extensionsystem and should support but not replace current systems. Research and policyimplications are discussed. For a link to the full paper, go to ‘Branches & Groups’ on the TAA website and click on ‘Conservation Agriculture News’ in the drop-down menu. MonicaFisher et al. 2018. published on-line in the International Journal ofAgricultural Sustainability.  10.5.18

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