Socio-cultural impacts of technology adoption in agriculture.

This is a curious phenomenon that whenever a new technology is introduced in agriculture, farmers resist adopting it, be it a new crop or process, because of many reasons. One of the most important reasons is the unfamiliarity with the new technology. Along with their unfamiliarity, their stickiness to the traditional processes and their resistance to learn new skill increase the uncertainty of the new technology adoption. Anything which stimulates the information flow will definitely increase the certainty of technology adoption by the farmers. Here, social networks play a vital role. Social networks mean people to people networks through which information flows. Since in developing areas, means of communication, which include telephone, radio, television etc, are not so strong thus social networks act as catalyst in transferring information which in turn increases the probability of new technology adoption. The factors affecting social networks, and in turn stimulating the speed of technology adoption, are strongly rooted in the degree of cultural diversity in the population. If the culture is homogenous then there is more certainty that information will flow quickly in the social network, thus increasing the rate of technology adoption because studies show that social links are stronger in homogenous societies. Similarly, the membership of any clan plays a significant role because when two farmers are in the same cultural group because the likelihood that they are in the same information network will be higher. However, on the other hand higher social cultural diversity or heterogeneity will hinder the adoption of a new technology through differences in work ethics or other attitudes. Munshi and Myaux (2005) explain this “norm-based approach” using an example of fertility transition. Through which they discussed the technology diffusion in a culturally heterogeneous society. They give an example that in Bangladesh, the fertility rate declined with the introduction of new contraceptive technology because within the same religion and culturally homogenous population more people are likely to adopt new contraceptive methods when many others are adopting them.
Another reason for the hindrance of technology adoption is the social pressures on a farmer. Since there is people to people interaction in information flow, as mentioned above, there is a possibility that when more people in the social link consider any innovation harmful or “against their traditions” then the farmer is pressurized not to adopt it. Maertens (2010) has clearly discussed this matter and sheds light on its impacts. She explains social pressures on the farmers, their social learning and simple imitation of adopting innovation, using a comprehensive data regarding new hybrid cotton in India. She identifies that there is certainly social learning because farmers do consider profits and benefits of adoption before they adopt any new technology. However, a number of farmers simply imitate the advanced farmers’ decision of adopting the new agricultural process or any other technology, without even looking at its benefits and harms. In addition, she finds that the social pressures also play a vital role in this regard. For instance, if any new technology is adopted and most people in the farmer’s network consider it harmful (even if it is actually not damaging) then the farmer is pressurized not to adopt it. These are the social and traditional pressures on a farmer.

In a nutshell, same technology does not fit in all agricultural sectors under all conditions because of the different socio-economic circumstances under which farmers are operating. The degree of the diversity in a culture has a significant role in the rate of information flow which influences the speed of technology adoption among farmers. Moreover, the social pressures in different clans or regions also hinder technology adoption which point out the fact that same technology does not work for all social spheres.


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