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Creating capabilities for sustainable smallholder agriculture: a systems perspective on innovation and the adoption of conservation agriculture in Kenya and Madagascar

Creating capabilities for sustainable smallholder agriculture: a systems perspective on innovation and the adoption of conservation agriculture in Kenya and Madagascar

Van Hulst, Freddy (2016) Creating capabilities for sustainable smallholder agriculture: a systems perspective on innovation and the adoption of conservation agriculture in Kenya and Madagascar. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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Abstract

In recent years, Conservation Agriculture (CA) has been promoted in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as an alternative farming system for smallholder farmers to address declining soil productivity and climate change. CA is a technology package based on 1) minimum soil disturbance; 2) permanent soil cover; and 3) maximum crop diversity through rotation/association. Claims about the potential benefits of CA for smallholder farmers in SSA are contested, and the (non-)adoption by farmers remains difficult to predict and understand. This research combines different conceptual models to better understand the adoption and promotion of CA in Kenya and Madagascar with a wider relevance for similar practices in SSA.

For both countries, the major stakeholders in the innovation systems and their interlinkages are described, with a focus on the position of smallholder farmers. Stakeholders’ ‘theories of change’, narratives and ‘framing’ of the importance of CA, and their perceived legitimation for their involvement in CA, are described. Results show that the Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) approach through Innovation Platforms remains difficult to translate into practice; expert-based development approaches remain the norm. It is argued that this is partly the result of an institutionalisation of purposive-rational policy and practice, while the capabilities approach and Habermas’ theory of communicative action explored in this thesis, suggest the need for a counter institutionalisation of more communicative-rational thinking and practice. Communicative action can enable an AIS approach that actually provides sustainable technological and institutional innovation.

This research shows that the social-psychological Reasoned Action Approach is a useful heuristic for understanding farmers’ intention to adopt CA practices in terms of attitudes, perceived social norms and perceived behavioural control (PBC), and the respective underlying beliefs. Results show that attitudes and PBC are the main determinants of intentions. It is recommended to promote experimentation and learning, because these influence both PBC and attitudes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: The research programme was carried out in collaboration with the ABACO project
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation Agriculture (CA); agricultural innovation; agricultural practices; Kenya; Madagascar;
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 11:00
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/23589

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