Enhancing adoption of agricultural technologies requiring high initial investment: The case of small and medium holder farmers
Many agricultural technologies with proven advantages to medium and stallholder farmers often remain on the shelf or confined to small localities with low adoption levels - adding to the frustration of researchers, donors and development workers. This is even more so for technologies requiring high initial investment. Using a project that promoted zero-tillage (ZT) technology in Syria as a case study and applying duration analysis and the Heckman selection model, we provide empirical evidence that creating free access to costly technology components for first-time users enhances farmers’ propensity, speed, and intensity of adoption. Model results show that technology promotion through demonstration trials and field days also enhance the adoption process with the intensity of adoption being the highest among larger farms. These results underline the important role of farmers’ initial exposure to agricultural technologies in enhancing the extent and speed of adoption, and the effectiveness of linking research to development efforts through targeting and participatory methods. The implications of these findings are that projects that aim at promoting new and proven agricultural technologies such as ZT that require high initial investment need to: 1) plan for creating free access for farmers to try the technology at least once; 2) target larger farmers who can afford the high investment costs; 3) encourage local and low-cost production of adapted technology components; and 4) develop mechanisms for increasing farmers’ access to credit.