Navigation Links
Farmer networks hold key to agricultural innovation in developing countries, Stanford study finds

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
Stanford University

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:
Related Image:
Farmer networks hold key to agricultural innovation in developing countries, Stanford study finds
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge ... health organizations, and MD EMR Systems , ... development partner for GE, have established a partnership ... Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, including ... EMR. These new integrations will ...
(Date:4/18/2017)... a global expert in SoC-based imaging and computing solutions, has developed ... the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration utilizing TeraFaces ® , ... showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at Tokyo Big Sight April ... Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an image of the M820 ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator ... osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and CEO of ... Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their Regenerative Powers,” was ... Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter B. Hanson, M.D., ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased ... scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each ... leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... The Giving Tree Wellness Center announces ... needs of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into their wellness and health ... As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving Tree’s two founders, Lilach ...
Breaking Biology Technology: