How To Guarantee Uptake Of Agricultural Innovation Among Small Scale Farmers


Uptake of agricultural innovation refers to the integration or adoption of an innovation by a farmer into their normal farming activities over a considerable period. It is however important to note that adoption is not a permanent trait. According to Dasgupta (2021), an individual may choose to stop the use of an innovation or technology for different reasons, ranging from socio-economic to institutional reasons one of which might be the introduction of new and better technology. Adoption or uptake of innovation can be classified into two levels, according to Feder et al. (1985). These are individual (farm level) adoption and aggregate adoption.

Adoption at the individual farmers’ level is defined by the degree of use of an innovation or practice in the long-run equilibrium when the farmer possesses complete information about the new technology. For aggregate adoption behavior, diffusion is referred to as the spread of innovation within a given location or group. This means that aggregate adoption is measured by the aggregate level of specific new technology within a given geographical area or a given population (Podsakoff et al., 2003).
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Guaranteeing Uptake of Innovation among Small Scale Farmers

To guarantee the uptake of a technology or innovation among farmers, the innovation must possess the following features:

Must possess a relative advantage over existing technologies:

Relative advantage measures how improved an innovation is over a competing option or the previous agronomic methods. Potential adopters need to see how the innovation would be beneficial to them, given their current situation. It could be in one or more of the following areas:

increased productivity

improved livelihood

better service

reduction in drudgery and physical labor

empowerment of the farmers

increase in the marketability of products

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reduced environmental impact

saving of money

proper utilization of land area

saving time.

The innovation must be perceived to be better than the status quo. This will result in increasing the rate of diffusion of the innovation among the target audience.

Must be compatible with existing values and culture:

Compatibility refers to the level of compatibility that an innovation has with individuals as they assimilate it into their lives. Potential adopters need to know that the innovation will be compatible with their life and lifestyle. If an innovation requires a huge lifestyle change or if the user must acquire additional products to make the innovation work, then it is more likely to fail. Compatibility reduces inertia in adoption – incompatibility means that adoption is unlikely until the relative advantages increase (Bond-Smith, 2019). According to Rogers, the process of adoption and diffusion of innovation is governed by individuals operating within a social structure, therefore the new technology must be technically compatible, and the innovation or technology must be organizationally compatible.

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Must be easy to use:

Complexity refers to how difficult it is for adopters to learn to use a given technology. It is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use. While innovators and early adopters may be quick to understand the use of new technologies, they only represent a small percentage of the clientele, therefore technologies and innovations must be designed or assembled in such a way that they are easy to understand and use. Complexity slows down the gears of progress. The more complex an innovation, the more difficult it will be for potential adopters to incorporate it into their lives.

Must possess trialability:

Many production techniques can be applied to a very narrow subset of farmers, and locations. The effect can be monitored to support decisions for gradual diffusion of the innovation. The ability to test a potential agricultural intervention on a limited basis allows farmers to explore the implementation of the practice, its acceptability, and the potential outcomes. Trialability describes how easily potential adopters can explore an innovation before deciding on adopting it. Trialability is critical to facilitating the adoption of an innovation. The farmers want to see what the technology or innovation can do and give it a test run before committing. This is the underlying concept of demonstration farms for new improved varieties of a particular crop and the test run of a new machine, for example, the combine harvester.

Results must be observable:

Observability is the degree to which the results of the innovation are visible to others. Observability is the extent to which the results or benefits of using an innovation are visible to potential adopters (Carmichael et al., 2000). Visibility of an innovation stimulates peer discussion, as farmers and potential adopters of innovation often request information about it. In any process of adoption or diffusion, not everyone adopts an innovation immediately. Potential adopters of all types must see the benefit of adopting innovation and using it. This is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others.

Must be divisible:

Divisibility refers to the degree to which an innovation may be tried on a limited basis. This is the degree to which an innovation may experiment with small units. Purchase of tractors or harvesters and use is a one-time major investment. Part of it cannot be purchased and tried in phases, although they could be hired.

The technology must be accessible:

This is the degree to which an innovation is readily available with minimum effort. There is little need for a change agent to push farming inputs that farmers either cannot afford or for which infrastructure does not exist for its distribution.

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To ensure adequate uptake of agricultural innovation among farmers, the innovation must be assembled with the aforementioned factors in mind. The moment the farmers or rural dwellers are aware that there is a cheaper and more effective means to achieve what they do, the technology is likely to attract a high level of interest and consequently, adoption among the farmers. The change agent or change initiator must ensure that the following questions are answered:

  1. What conditions need to exist for your innovation to thrive?
  2. What technologies need to be compatible with your innovation?
  • What research needs to be done on the farmers and/or potential adopters?
  1. What elements are in your control to manipulate?
  2. What are the existing technologies that compete with the new technology?
  3. What are the shortcomings of the existing technologies?
  • What sort of improvement or change will the technology bring to the lives of the adopters?


Bond-Smith, S. (2019). The impact of compatibility on innovation in markets with network effects. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 28(8), 816-840.

Carmichael, C., Turgoose, C., Gary, M.O., & Todd, C. (2000). Innovation and SMEs the case of Yorkshire, UK. Journal of Industry and Higher Education, 14(4), 244-248.

Dasgupta, P. (2021). The Economics of Biodiversity: the Dasgupta Review. HM Treasury.

Feder, G., Just, R. E. & Zilberman, D. (1985). Adoption of agricultural innovations in developing countries: A survey. Economic development and cultural change, 33(2), 255-298.

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Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y. & Podsakoff, N.P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879-903.


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