The Factors Impacting Adoption of Agricultural Technology: The Case of Sunhara India Project Kumar Das Monitoring & Evaluation

Specialist ASI, India

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The Factors Impacting Adoption of Agricultural Technology: The Case of Sunhara India Project
Abstract: Adoption of improved agricultural production technologies in developing countries is essential part of all development programs and initiatives. It is influenced by a wide range of economic and social factors, physical and technical aspects of farming and the farmers’ risk perception. The goal of this study is to explore the drivers behind farm level adoptions, using a case of Agribusiness Systems International’s (ASI) Sunhara India Project, implemented in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest and one of the poorest states in India. Sunhara India is a 4 year horticulture industry development program funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This brief study will demonstrate how the small and marginal farmers participating in the project with insufficient knowledge about necessary production services, such as farm advisory, extension and formal credit and most importantly limited access to quality agricultural inputs, fertilizers, sprays and storage facilities – responded to project interventions and trainings. Using data from interviews of 100 small-scale farmers in various districts of this state and the project database and learning, a conceptual analysis of drivers and factors impacting agricultural technology adoption for farmers in this region is presented in the paper. Key Words: Smallholder Farmers, Technology Adoption, Markets, Socio-Economic Problems, Risks.

-------------------------------------Present Address: ASI, 2/34, Vipul Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India, Pin: 226010 Mobile: +91-9005644555; Telephone: +91-0522-4101486; Fax: +91-0522-4101489 Email:

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Agriculture forms the backbone of the Indian economy, employing approximately two-thirds of the workforce. Despite efforts to mechanize Indian agriculture in the 1990s, India remains a country of small farms on which farmers cultivate ancestral lands with manual and cattle labor, with limited productivity and labor efficiency (Ahmed, 2004). Improving agricultural productivity in the country and in the state of Uttar Pradesh in particular, has become an urgent need, dictated by population growth, uncertainty in country’s food markets, changing consumption, and the desire to meet important milestones in food and nutrition in the state, such as those of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (World Bank 2007). International Organisations & Agencies, Government of India, Regional & local authorities’ concerned groups are continuously attempting to make agriculture more productive and profitable by introducing new technologies in rural areas. They face constraints such as inefficient distribution models/networks, soil erosion, depleted soil nutrients, low quality of seeds, over-grazing, the use of elementary farming tools and techniques (Ahmed, 2004). Where public and private extension agents have already introduced new technologies, initial adoption rates have been low and largely failed to spread spontaneously beyond the communities into which such introduction is already made (Moser, 2006). This is mainly due to the fact that farmer’s decisions to adopt a new agricultural technology in preference to other, alternative (old) technologies depend on complex factors. One of the key factors is farmers' perception of profitability of the new technology vis-a-vis that of the existing (old) technology. Other factors which influence farmers' adoptions are the traditional ones: resource endowments; socio-economic status; demographic characteristics; and access to institutional services (extension, input supply, markets, etc.)(Negatu, 1999). ASI, during implementation of the Sunhara India1 project has faced similar problems. The study is conducted in the 5 districts of Uttar Pradesh where project is active, and will discuss project interventions and impacts of efforts to promote adaptions at the farmer level. For the purpose of the study, primary and secondary data was gathered. The primary data was collected through direct interviews with groups of 20 randomly selected farmers in each district. Secondary Data was primarily drawn from the project MIS. The maximum respondents in the study are under the poverty line2. Respondents were aged between 35 - 65 years and included people who owned their farms as well as those who were renting farm plots. The maximum respondents are belonging to lower castes3.


Sunhara India’s (Prosperous India) main objective is to leverage market forces to build reliable rural networks for provision and access to services for smallholder farmers. The project has three interlinked objectives:  Facilitate introduction, access and adoption of new and improved technologies  Strengthening and diversification of market channels  Empowerment of rural women As part of the project activities, ASI is promoting new, improved and low-cost technologies are project areas through trainings and demonstration plots. The important characteristics of the training are that the schedule is need based. Adoption Cards are kept by all lead farmers to capture the patterns of adoption rates.

Poverty Line is an economic benchmark and poverty threshold used by the Government of India to indicate economic disadvantage and to identify individuals and households in need of government assistance and aid. It is also the estimated minimum level of income needed to secure the necessities of life. It is determined using various parameters which vary from state to state and within states also. In 2011, The Planning Commission decides the bench mark on 32 Rupees.

Any of the hereditary, endogamous social classes or subclasses of traditional Hindu society, stratified according to Hindu ritual purity, especially the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes.

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The subsequent sections focus more narrowly on the factors which have explicitly addressed issues of perceptions, risk, uncertainty, socio-economic situation and learning. The fourth section contains a conceptual framework for considering these issues, drawing on key insights from the survey. The final section examines a number of issues which needs to be addressed properly for technology adoption.

Section 1: Factors affecting the Adoption Process Section 2: Interpretation of Graphical Representations with Statistics Section 1: Factors affecting the Adoption Process: As per the feedback we received from the farmers in the field, there are six main factors which are important when making a decision to adopt or not to adopt a technology. These factors are:       Ability to Pay Vulnerability and Risk Scale of Production Long Term Consideration Adaptability to Local Conditions Access to Information on New Technology4

Four of these factors are more prevalent and considered by farmers when they make decisions to adopt a new technology. These are, in order: farmers’ ability to pay, their assessment of the degree of vulnerability and risk associated with adopting the new technology, farmers’ scale of production, and access to technology and information. Less prominent factors are the adaptability of the new technology in local conditions and long-term considerations.


1. Ability to Pay: It refers to farmers’ capability of paying for using the newly introduced technology. This depends on farmers’ level of income, access to credit, and other sources of financing for agricultural activities. 2. Vulnerability and Risk: It refers to the weakness of farmers in adverse conditions that may result from using a new technology or from deviating from their usual agricultural practice. Therefore, there is some threat of production failure (risk) involved in adopting a new technology. 3. Scale of production: It means to farmers’ range of production possibility. It’s mainly the physical availability of land and resources. 4. Long-term considerations refer to the assessment made by farmers of how sustainable this technology can be. It is a consideration of the dependability of a new technology. 5. Adaptability to local conditions refers to the ability of new technology to be used with minimal disruptions in the formalized system of local agriculture. 6. Access to information refers to the ease of having information on the new technology available. Information here refers to knowledge about the existence of a technology, knowledge of what the technology can or cannot do.

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Ability to Pay Access to Information on New Technology

Vulnerabilit y and Risk

Decision to Adopt a New Technology
Adaptability to Local Conditions Long Term Consideration Sclae of Production

Table 1: Factors Affecting the Adoption Decision

100 80 60 40 20

Factors Access to Information Scale of Production Ability to Pay Adaptability of Technology to Local Condition Vulnerability and Risk Access to Information Scale of Ability to Pay Adaptability Vulnerability Long Term Production of Technology and Risk Consideration to Local Condition Long Term Consideration

Number of Farmers 75 94 90 46 86 45


Table 2: Percentages of Farmers Stating Different Consideration for Adopting Technology Section 2: Interpretation of Graphical Representations with Statistics: In this section, the results of interviews are represented as diagrams. It is represented in a three-stage model of drivers of factors that determine adoption, the factors that determine adoption, and the decision to adopt the new technology. The decision to adopt a new technology is determined by a number of factors which are themselves the outcome of several drivers.

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The Three Stage Model is:

Level of Literacy Remoteness of Locality Access to Mass Media Inputs of Capital Access to Investment Size of Land Holding Other Sources of Income Scale of Production Size of Farm Access to Credit Access to Insurance Scale of Production Price Uncertainties Production Failures Local Knowledge Affordable Local Resources Vulnerability of Production Scale of Production Non-Agricultural Resource

Access to Information on New Technology Scale of Production

Ability to Pay

Decision to Adopt a New Technology

Vulnerability and Risk

Adaptability to Local Condition Long Term Consideration

1. Access to Information on New Technology: Farmers need knowledge about the benefits of a technology to be able to make decisions on whether or not to adopt it. In many parts of project areas in Uttar Pradesh, the availability of this knowledge to farmers is constrained by a number of challenges: such as remoteness of an area or limited economic resources5. In maximum districts, the literacy rates are low and potential users may not be able to access needed information even if available. The farmers have difficulties to access extension services from the public extension systems (KVKs6) due to their poor economic conditions. Most of the respondents said that they don’t have any information about good quality of seeds and fertilizers. They depend on local input retailers and in maximum times, they provide bad quality agro-inputs. To address this issue, based on the lead farmer-out grower model, Sunhara conducted targeted seasonal trainings for group of farmers. Through these activities, information was brought to farmers at the local level and awareness was raised about new technologies/practices. To facilitate sustainable access to these technologies and services, the project worked on establishing a network of rural inputs shops in partnership with emerging agribusiness companies.


It means that farmers or farming communities don’t have access to information through certain forms of mass media like television, print media, internet etc. 6 Government Extension Systems.

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The Extension Agents and in some places, the lead farmers are promoted to manage these shops and play a vital role in transferring knowledge at the local level to ensure the success of their business. They are all certified through a joint Sunhara-KVK programme as trained crop advisors, to increase outreach of the KVK knowledge and services and shift focus on training other value chain participants other than farmers. There are several things currently impacting this model. In the first year of shops being operation, access to shops is still limited to small number of farmers. 17% of respondents have used the shop services. For most, shops are either too far from the village areas or farmers lack of information about services provided in these shops. It is expected that with each new season, this number will increase as the positive production results become more apparent within communities. The critical learning component from the farmers who have used the shop’s services is that they still required access to credit in order to purchase necessary inputs. Also in some cases, the stock of demonstrated materials is not available at all times in these shops, depending on the demands for a specific product. Thus it became clear that even when access to quality technologies/inputs is available, there are constraints that prevent full utilization of those services. 2. Scale of Production: In the project covered areas, maximum farmers possess small farm holdings, low capital inputs and vulnerability to production failures or low outputs. The low outputs imply a limited ability to raise investment capital through savings, while the vulnerability of farmers prevents them from taking production risks that may otherwise be profitable. The small and fragmented nature of their farmholdings also prevents them from investing in and using technologies (especially machinery) that may save labour and increase output and productivity. However, there are cases, where farmers are showing interest to invest money in new technology. Due to the project exposure, some farmers in Agra will use chizer plough for their cultivation. Farmers’ scale of production is a factor which decreases the adoption rate of new technology. As an example, in Lucknow area, some of the respondents used F1 quality seeds for cabbage cultivation. In the first year, they got very good production and in the second year, when they used the same, the production decreased. According to the respondents, due to the problem of cash, they bought the F1 quality seeds from the local input retailers and the quality of inputs is not good. For this, they are more tensed with the quality of seeds and chemicals. 3. Ability to Pay: Although all farmers interviewed would like to invest in new technologies that could save labour and increase productivity, they cannot raise the necessary capital to do so because of insufficient savings, or be approved for bank loans since they have no adequate collateral. Thus, the farmers are often not able to adopt the high-cost technology. In maximum cases, their limited farm-sizes and limited access to credit creates inability to pay for a new technology. Thus, still farming remains underdeveloped and labour intensive. The inability to pay decreases the adoption rates of new technology among small-scale farmers. This means that the greater the affordability of a technology, the greater the tendency to adopt the same. The low cost technology was adopted more than the high cost one in project supported areas. Some farmers also do not like to take loans to purchase new technology. Maximum respondents however have low purchasing power and limited access to credit facilities which make them unable to afford many types of technology that are introduced. Maximum respondents said that they did the soil testing (low cost), composting (low cost) and they always prefer to make beds and sowed in line due to project

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interventions while they avoid drip irrigation (high cost) and low cost poly tunnel (also high cost). Both of these need more money.
List of Technology Easy to Adopt Soil Testing X Use of Fertilizer as X Per Soil Test Composting X Use of Improved X Varieties Seed Treatment Soil Treatment Line Sowing X Nursery Tray and Use of Low Tunnel Identification and Control of Pest and Disease Pest and Disease Management Spray Pump Calibration Protective Clothing Dose Calculation of Pesticide Grading X Field Cooling X Sorting X Packing X Hard to Expensive Affordable Lucknow Barabanki Sultanpur Agra Allahabad Average Adopt to Adopt to Adopt X 20.86% 18.05% 32.69% 10.21% 11.80% 13.03% X 16.43% 9.05% 34.10% 6.07% 6.05% 9.49% X 78.29% 47.72% 49.10% 31.33% 34.17% 39.87% X 73.29% 28.14% 46.49% 30.85% 34.56% 36.23% X X 22.29% 16.73% 34.06% 25.59% 19.89% 20.01% X X 2.57% 8.12% 27.12% 5.01% 14.03% 10.03% X 33.29% 26% 32.01% 39.08% 16.75% 31.43% X X 58% 35.22% 26.22% 39% 21.42% 29.87% X X 8.29% X X X X X 14.57% X X X X X X X 7.00% 6.86% 4.29% 89.14% 89.71% 90.57% 23.00% 7.73% 17.22% 4.55% 39.28% 40.37% 40.15% 11.79% 26.44% 12.53% 25.71% 25.59% 27.04% 53.86% 52.44% 53.38% 29.95% 36.10% 38.85% 39.33% 39.27% 39.23% 7.53% 11.03% 12.47% 40.50% 39.81% 39.67% 24.41% 9.31% 19.67% 17.54% 47.08% 47.06% 47.27% 33.18% 6.09% 47.26% 37.77% 26.32% 25.92% 5.10% 44.47% 33.79% 20.16% 22.07%

Table 3: Percentage of Farmers Adopting Technology (Affordability & Area Wise) 4. Vulnerability and Risk: Most farming in India (especially small and middle-scale farming) is not covered by any form of insurance against production failures. Farmers are therefore fully responsible for their own decisions, which may mean a total loss of food, income and livelihood in times of poor harvest. Thus, they appear to be more risk-averse. During interviews, to estimate the extent to which new technology may expose them to production risks, the farmers asked the following questions: A. Would adopting a new technology make them dependent on another subsidiary of this technology which they may not be able to afford? B. Will they be able to continue with production as before if this technology is not available? C. How reliable is the source of the new technology? Majority also claimed that they are facing the issue with availability of profitable market outlets. Since there is no minimum price support for horticulture in the whole sale markets, they are exposed to predatory trader practices and daily (and even hourly) fluctuations of prices in the markets. Uncoordinated production also creates gluts in times which further diminish the price offered to farmers. If they invested in new technologies for their cultivation and are not able to get a good price for their improved products, than the new technology is proven unprofitable and thus the main incentive for adopting is done. In such cases, farmers may be left with a burden of debt that may strain their livelihoods in the future. In Lucknow, some farmers has faced the problems.

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5. Adaptability of New Technologies to Local Conditions: The adaptation of new technologies to reflect farming practices requires recognition of existing indigenous know-how, skills and technologies. When new technology is adapted to local conditions, it builds on such existing skills and technological capacities as well as maximising use of local resources. This gives farmers the opportunity of experiencing a new technology in more familiar way. It also reduces the level of dependence on external sources of inputs and other resources that are associated with the use of that particular technology. The case of Sultanpur represents a very good story about application of local knowledge for technology adoption. Coco-peat is one of the technologies for the proper nursery rising, the project is promoting. However, with coco-peat unavailable at some point during the season in one of the project established shops, the farmers, with assistance from extension agents, used coconut husks, mixed with pesticides to make local coco-peat for their use, likewise, facing unavailability of protective clothing for spraying, farmers, with assistance from project staff, made protection from unused plastics. 6. Long-term Consideration: All the respondents unanimously said that they always take into account the long-term effects of their actions when they make decisions regarding the adoption or non-adoption of new technology. The scale of production is also an important consideration on it. The smaller the scale of production, the more risk averse the farmer is. In Allahabad, for the project purpose, ASI tried to introduce organic farming but majority of farmers did not adopt the practice due to the small scale of production and price. According to the respondents, using of improved varieties of seeds, using chemicals, making beds and sowing in line gives farmers more production output.

The transfer of technology to encourage development of Uttar Pradesh’s agriculture is seen as an essential ingredient in achieving sustainable rural development in the state, raising many of the agriculture-dependent population out of poverty, and contributing to nation’s food security. As described in the abstract about the socio-economic problems of the small farmers regarding the adoption of new farm technology, it was concluded that low literacy rates, small landholdings, low incomes due to which they were unable to adopt new farm technology. Besides low levels of literacy, limited access to information and low purchasing power, these areas have fewer agricultural support services and tend to distrust some of the advices. To meet these challenges, the project has established access to information to empower farmers in a way that they are able to make choices offered by new technologies.

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