Making Sense of Intergenerational Aspirations in Agrarian Households and Their Implications for Technology Adoption: Evidence from Kenya
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In sub-Saharan Africa, rural development and poverty alleviation has been the primary focus of several policy agendas put forth by universities, government agencies, research institutions and non-governmental organizations. One of the main paradigms supporting this trajectory has been to see agriculture in predominantly agrarian societies as a key pathway out of poverty. Rural economies and smallholder farmers typically derive a substantial portion of their livelihoods from this sector. To date, conventional development paradigms have focused on the adoption of profitable farm technologies. Despite recent efforts to make low-cost technologies available, adoption rates have been below expectations. This research suggests that a fundamental reason for this is due to our limited understanding of the varying aspirations amongst different generations of farmers. A multistage sampling technique was used to randomly select 300 agrarian households from different ecological and economic backgrounds in rural Kenya. Using a structured questionnaire, household data was then collected and analyzed for eleven different agricultural technologies that have benefits along the spectrum from short-term to long-term. A multivariate Poisson model was run to examine the variability in potential end-user’s adoption decisions. The results clearly show that there is a strong correlation between aspirations and technology adoption decisions. Potential end-users are more inclined to invest resources into agriculture technologies if their aspirations are aligned with developing farming as their main livelihood strategy. The study also indicates pronounced generational differences in aspirations between elders and youth in the same communities. The findings indicate that the current rural development trajectories strategies founded only on agricultural development need to be revisited, particularly in the context of responding to the aspirations of a growing and increasingly significant young rural population.