In the past five years since the global food spikes began, it has become clear that agriculture plays an extremely important role in global markets. Swings in supply and demand have led to huge price volatilities which have affected the poor the most. In such a scenario, the debate about the continuing need for government intervention in agricultural markets is back on the table. At one end of the spectrum there are those who feel that since the initial economic conditions for government intervention have ceased to exist, governments should withdraw from the food grain market. On the other hand, the current price volatility in the international market has meant that a case for government intervention still exists. Continue reading “Is there a continuing need for government intervention in agricultural markets?” »
~ The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all ~ Voltaire
Social learning in agriculture refers to learning that takes place through social interactions between a farmer, and individuals in his social and economic network (aka “information networks”). Such learning can influence a farmer’s decisions at various stages such as choice of crops and inputs; method of input application; or any other form of technology adoption.
The purpose of this blog entry is to situate fieldwork observations on social learning in the context of existing theories and evidence on the importance of social networks in agricultural learning. According to researchers at Stanford University, contrary to popular belief, information about new farm technology and best practices do not flow directly from the lab to the farm. Farmers observe the decisions and experiences of their peers before adopting a new technology—a reason why agricultural technology adoption often occurs sequentially, and with a time lag (Munshi 2008). This blog entry discusses the process of social learning at length, and suggests the engagement of local information networks for successful introduction of new agricultural technologies. Continue reading “Love Thy Neighbour : Information Networks, Social Learning & Technology Adoption in Agriculture” »
Agriculture in modern times is getting more and more dependent upon the steady supply of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. There has been much focus on soil nutrients and on the availability, use, economic returns, and environmental impacts, of chemical fertilizers.
“To feed its growing population, Africa must increase its food production by 4% per year for the next 10 years.”<Source: .pdf>