Navigation Links
Farmer networks hold key to agricultural innovation in developing countries, Stanford study finds
Date:6/2/2011

New technologies can improve agricultural sustainability in developing countries, but only with the engagement of local farmers and the social and economic networks they depend on, say Stanford University researchers. Their findings are published in the May 23 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Most people tend to think that technology information flows to farmers through a direct pipeline from scientists, but that isn't true," said lead author Ellen McCullough, a former research fellow at Stanford's Program on Food Security and the Environment, now at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study was co-authored by Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford.

To better understand how farmers decide to adopt new technologies, the researchers interviewed growers, farm credit unions and agricultural experts in the Yaqui Valley in Sonora, Mexico the birthplace of the "green revolution" in wheat and one of Mexico's most productive breadbaskets.

Matson and other Stanford researchers have been working in the Yaqui Valley for nearly 20 years. Among their objectives is demonstrating how science can inform agricultural policy in an area grappling with the kinds of environmental challenges that plague other intensive farming regions.

While Yaqui Valley supplies most of Mexico's wheat, the environmental costs are high, according to the Stanford researchers. Valley farms pollute local drinking water, wreck coastal ecosystems and foul the air with particulates that cause a variety of diseases.

"If scientists want to offer solutions to manage these environmental impacts, they need to understand what influences farmers' decisions about technology and production strategies," McCullough said.

Credit union clout

In Yaqui Valley, credit unions hold sway among the majority of farmers, McCullough said. In addition to providing loans, crop insurance, fertilizer and seed, credit unions have taken over the government's role in providing technical expertise and management advice.

Valley growers also have a long history of working with the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, a world-renowned agricultural research center known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT.

But interviews conducted for the PNAS study revealed that most farmers take their cues from local credit unions and not from experts at CIMMYT. As an example, McCullough pointed to a collaborative effort between CIMMYT scientists and farmers to develop a nitrogen diagnostic tool that reduces fertilizer use without sacrificing crop yields.

The device, which gives real-time readings of nitrogen levels in the soil, proved early on that it could save farmers 12 to 17 percent of their profits. Yet most farmers rejected the new technology until CIMMYT researchers finally convinced credit union officials that it was a worthwhile investment.

"The most successful innovations that have been adopted by farmers in the Yaqui Valley have come from collaborations among researchers, farmers and local establishments, like the credit unions," McCullough said. Because of their considerable influence among farmers, credit unions should be included in any effort to effect environmental change in the region, she added.

"The Yaqui case negates the simplistic view of the one-way flow of scientific information from the agricultural research community to the user community," Matson said. "If researchers seek to produce relevant knowledge that ultimately influences decision making, they must recognize the dynamics of the local knowledge system and participate purposefully and strategically in it."


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Farmers can spot lame sheep, but fail to prevent footrot spread
2. From genes to farmers fields
3. At the fungal farmers market, only the best cyanobacteria are for sale
4. Rot-resistant wheat could save farmers millions
5. ORNL, Los Alamos pioneer new approach to assist scientists, farmers
6. Genetically engineered crops benefit many farmers, but the technology needs proper management to remain effective
7. Farmers beliefs on a higher plain
8. Dairy farmers can fight growing disease threat with chlorine and stainless steel
9. Sequencing of cacao genome will help US chocolate industry, subsistence farmers
10. Chocolate farmers could benefit from newly sequenced cacao genome
11. New study shows benefits of Bt corn to farmers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Farmer networks hold key to agricultural innovation in developing countries, Stanford study finds
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient ... organizations, and MD EMR Systems , an ... partner for GE, have established a partnership to ... product and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity ... These new integrations will allow ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. ... company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form ... Exchange Commission. ... Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of the ... on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 No two people ... at the New York University Tandon School of ... have found that partial similarities between prints are ... in mobile phones and other electronic devices can ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... Recent studies show that cancer ... for specific cancers, such as breast, prostate, or lung, target vital pathways active ... for advanced prostate cancer. , This therapy limits the production and effectiveness ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... Today, 3Bar Biologics ... secured $2M in funding from an impressive group of investors, including Rev1 Ventures, ... Fund. With this investment, 3Bar is broadening availability of its groundbreaking offering that ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... of the Inc. 5000 features a now-familiar name: BioPoint ( http://biopointinc.com/ ), ... for the third year in a row. Now in its 36th edition, ... set of quantitative metrics. In addition, BioPoint was also named to the ... Bay State . ... ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... After spending the past two years building a state-of-the-art technology which ... offers this platform to healthcare stakeholders (hospitals, foundations, biopharma companies etc.) ... collection vis a vis their members, under their own brand. Three ... offer. ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: